Opportunity for Strugglers Pune, Chennaiyin to Improve
Struggling to make a mark this season, defending champions Chennaiyin FC and FC Pune City will look to put up an improved display in their Hero Indian Super League (ISL) match in Pune on Tuesday.
File image of Chennaiyin FC players celebrating a goal.(Twitter/ISL)
Pune: Struggling to make a mark this season, defending champions Chennaiyin FC and FC Pune City will look to put up an improved display in their Hero Indian Super League (ISL) match in Pune on Tuesday.
Last season, the two teams were blazing away and qualified for the play-offs. Chennaiyin FC went on to win the league title, and now both are at the bottom of the table.
Time is running out for both the teams as they face each other in a crucial battle at the Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex Stadium.
"Nobody would have thought that two of last year's semifinalists would be sitting in this position when we are coming close to about one-third of the season. It's our responsibility to dig ourselves out of the hole," said interim coach Pradyum Reddy.
Reddy took over from the sacked Miguel Angel Portugal and has been trying to get the team back on track. His first attempt was a disaster as they lost 2-4 against FC Goa but a draw against Kerala Blasters FC suggested his team could turn things around.
He now has a battle on his hand. Brazilian striker Diego Carlos has been handed an additional suspension of two matches for his red-card offence against FC Goa, while Marko Stankovic, who scored a blinder last week, could miss out due to an injury he picked up during the match.
The onus will again be on Emiliano Alfaro, who now has the dubious record of missing two penalties in as many games, and Marcelinho to find their form in front of goal.
John Gregory's Chennaiyin FC are placed 10th after being sub-par in both attack and defence. Alongside Pune, they have the worst defensive record in the league with 11 goals conceded.
"We have had an embarrassing season so far, with just one point in six games. Talking here won't make any difference, we need to do the talking on the field. Tomorrow night I will be choosing players who have the hunger, and desire to get all three points," said Gregory.
The coach could make changes and hand game-time to players who haven't been tested.
Gregory Nelson could find himself back in the starting line-up after two commendable performances as a substitute. Karanjit Singh could see his position in the line-up being taken away by Sanjiban Ghosh as the goalkeeper too has been out of form.
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