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3-min read

ISL 2015 Final: The key men who can script Chennaiyin FC's title win

Displaying a tough resolve and the necessary strength of character, Chennaiyin fought their way against all odds to reach the final.

Subhasish Dutta | IBNLive.com

Updated:December 20, 2015, 12:33 PM IST
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ISL 2015 Final: The key men who can script Chennaiyin FC's title win
Displaying a tough resolve and the necessary strength of character, Chennaiyin fought their way against all odds to reach the final.
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Chennaiyin FC's campaign in the second season of the Indian Super League has been a story of animated highs and agonising lows. The last season's semi-finalists humbled defending champions Atletico de Kolkata 4-2 on aggregate to made it to the final of ISL 2.

However, it wasn't a smooth ride for The Super Machans, who at point were languishing at the bottom of the table. Not many were willing to put their money on Marco Materazzi’s men to qualify for the semis, let alone the final. But they had other plans in store.

Displaying a tough resolve and the necessary strength of character, Chennaiyin fought their way against all odds to reach the final. They put together a brilliant run of results and in fact became the only team this season to register four wins in a row by beating NorthEast United FC 1-0 and entering the semi-finals.

Now what lies ahead for the Machans is probably their biggest test when they face GC Goa in the grand finale at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Fatorda on Sunday. Chennaiyin had beaten the Gaurs 4-0 earlier in the season but that’s a thing of the past now as the Gaurs have since become a formidable force and playing at home will give them added advantage.

Before the finale, IBNLive takes a look at few of the players who can be crucial for Chennaiyin FC on Sunday.

John Stiven Mendoza Valencia: With 12 goals in 15 matches, Colombian striker Stiven Mendoza has been in red-hot form in this season's ISL. Mendoza has been one of the main characters in Chennaiyin's remarkable turnaround and that has made this young striker undroppable. Mendoza is a comfortable favourite for the Golden Boot award this year as he is the leading goal scorer of the league. What makes him dangerous is his ability to make room in the penalty area. Mendoza is a threat to Goa's defence and is left unmarked, he will surely not miss a chance to punish Zico's men.

Edel Apoula: The Cameroon-born Edel was one of the best goalkeepers last season. Playing for Atletico de Kolkata in ISL 1, he recorded a save percentage of 86.3% . This year, Edel might have traded his colours but not his habbit. Edel has 10 clean sheets now in ISL. With 6 clean sheets under his belt this season, the former Paris Saint-Germain custodian is arguably one of the finest performers in the knock-out stages of ISL. In the last season's final, he pulled off arguably the best and most crucial save of ISL 2014 when he expertly saved a Michael Chopra close range effort. His experience of playing in big matches will definitely prove handy for Chennaiyin FC.

Jeje Lalpekhlua: One of the brightest young talents in the country and a winner the I-League in his first year with Mohun Bagan, Jeje had a brilliant first season of the ISL. He scored four goals in the league, the most by any Indian. And this year too, Jeje is at it again. The young forward has scored 6 goals and is one shy of equalling Sunil Chhetri's tally of 7 goals. Jeje is the highest goal scoring Indian in the history of ISL. Jeje's partnership with Mendoza has been one of the highlights this season for Chennaiyin FC.

Mailson Alves-Bernard Mendy Pairing: Mailson is Chennaiyin’s best centre back in terms of clearing the danger out from the box. They have been very flexible at the back, but it is quite evident that the partnership of Mailson and Mendy has been the most fruitful for the Super Machans.

Elano Blummer: The former Manchester City striker was the best performer for Chennaiyin FC last season. The Brazilian, who was last season's Golden Boot winner, has been a creative midfielder and netted 4 goals this season. The combination of Elano and Mendoza have done wonders for Chennai throughout the season and coach Marco Materazzi will depend a lot on Elano's antics in the final.

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