Defending champions Chennai City FC will be hosting Kolkata giants East Bengal at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Coimbatore on Saturday, January 25. The match is slated for an evening kick-off at 7pm and will be broadcast LIVE on DSport and Kolkata TV, with online streaming available at Fancode.
Either club would be far from pleased given where they stand on the table as the 13th I-League season approaches its half-way mark. Chennai City FC are in eighth place, having picked eight points while East Bengal have racked up the same total, but sit a place above in seventh by virtue of a superior goal difference.
Despite having not hit full throttle, Chennai City FC will be boosted by their roller-coaster of a win against Gokulam Kerala FC in the Southern Derby, where they emerged 3-2 winners in a thoroughly pulsating affair.
Chennai City FC midfielder Katsumi Yusa will be lining up against his former club. Having donned the famous Red and Gold once, he shared his thoughts on facing his old club and said, “I am feeling very happy to play against East Bengal. I have played with them previously and their supporters were very good to me.”
He further added, “They are a fresh team now, with new talents and good footballing philosophy, so they will be a good team to face and I am looking forward to the game.”
The mood in the Red and Golds camp will be totally different, with them having endured three defeats in a row, but none as deflating as their loss to archrivals Mohun Bagan in the Kolkata derby on January 19. Since the turn of the new year, East Bengal have had their work cut out and now find themselves in a position where they cannot afford another loss.
The club also announced the departure of head coach Alejandro Menendez earlier this week, which doesn’t make their situation any better. Taking over the reins will be Spaniard Mario Rivera Campesino, who was Alejandro’s assistant at East Bengal last season.
However, they will be aided by the signing of Liberian forward Ansumana Kromah, who has re-joined the club.
The task in hand for the visitors wouldn’t be made any easier by the unavailability of defender Marti Crespi, after the veteran Spaniard picked up his fourth yellow card of the season against Mohun Bagan, rendering him suspended for tomorrow’s game.
East Bengal midfielder Juan Mera addressed the rough patch that his side is going through and said, “I think the team has played some very good games so far. We have had bad luck with goals going forward.”
On being asked if he is fazed by the poor run of form, he remained calm and asserted, “We must continue working to improve day-by-day. I have no pressure. My job is to play football and I love it.”