Chennai, Nov 10 (IANS) Tempers are likely to fly again as hosts Chennaiyin FC eye revenge against NorthEast United FC in a crucial ninth around Indian Super League (ISL) clash here on Wednesday.
The first leg clash between the two teams in Guwahati was a feisty affair which NorthEast United FC won 2-0, thanks to a penalty at the end and another goal in stoppage time. The referee dished out ten yellow cards and a red card in that tie, while both teams were fined for misconduct.
The ninth round clash on Wednesday could turn out to be even more hotly contested as the race for a place in the semi-final heats up. Both teams, who have 10 points each, are out of the top four at the moment but a win for either team will give them some breathing space.
“Every match is crucial now and can change the standings. We are not very consistent in our wins. May be now is the time. We still have a chance,” said Chennaiyin FC manager Marco Materazzi during the pre-match media conference on Tuesday.
Chennaiyin FC’s preparations have been hampered by rain here but Materazzi said their opponents too will be at a similar disadvantage. The weather could be a factor with city witnessing torrential rains for the last 48 hours that would make the ground conditions slushy.
Chennaiyin are fifth on the points table with 10 points from eight matches, two places above NorthEast due to a superior goal difference.
“Rain is actually a problem but it’s a problem for both teams. We have had four days of rest and it’s up to all of us to make the best we can to recover,” he added.
NorthEast United have continued their revival after losing all three games at the start. Coach Cesar Farias has managed to instill confidence in the team and it has reflected in some fine victories including the one against defending champions Atletico de Kolkata in the last game.
“At the moment, the league table is really tight. Everyone has options to qualify for the semi-finals. We started with many away games in the first leg and now we have more home games,” said Farias on Tuesday.
NorthEast have looked solid ever since defender Andre Bikey joined them. The focus will be on the 30-year-old Cameroon international as they attempt to shut out Chennaiyin FC’s mercurial forwards Stiven Mendoza and Elano Blumer.
“Bikey is a good character. He is strong and plays to win. It’s a pleasure to have him,” Farias added.
“Chennaiyin FC is a great team. This league is very even and all teams are equal. You can see that from the results and the points that everyone have. Some players (in Chennaiyin FC) stand out but as a whole they are very organised. They are clear in their idea of the football they want to play,” he concluded.