NEW DELHI: Chennaiyin FC takes on FC Pune City in an Indian Super League (ISL) game today with an eye on a win and the top spot in the standing, despite missing the presence of coach John Gregory, owing to suspension.
Having lost crucial points in two previous home games with rival teams scoring in the dying minutes, Chennaiyin FC will be hoping to tighten the defence and maintain focus till the end and walk away with three points.
CFC has 17 points from nine games and will look to gain full points at Marina Arena tomorrow to consolidate its position in the table.
The former champion had won the away match at Pune 1-0 early in December.
Assistant coach Syed Sabir Pasha, who addressed reporters ahead of the game admitted that conceding goals at the death has cost them dear and called for focus till the final whistle.
“It hurts us, hurts the players. It’s just lack of focus. We have to play as a team in those last moments. Players also understand I think. It will not happen in the matches to come,” he said.
He said Pune is strong in attack and the return of captain Henrique Soreno from suspension will be a big boost.
Jeje Lalpekhlua and Raphael Augusto have been at the forefront of CFC’s scoring and will be more than a handful for the Pune defence.
“We know Pune is strong in attack. They look threatening. We know they are a good attacking side and will come hard at us. We are lucky that our best player, captain (Soreno) is behind. It will be a good contest,” Pasha added.
Incidentally, the Pune team’s coach Ranko Popovic is serving a four-match ban.
Moreover, the visitors will now have to overcome the absence of their talisman Marcelinho. The Brazilian is their City’s leading goal scorer with six strikes, including a hat-trick, and has four assists to boot.
“Marcelinho is one of the best player in the league. We will miss him sure but I know our team has quality. If a team cannot play without one player, it’s no team. We know his importance, he is a strong player but we know how (good) is our team,” Pune City assistant coach Vladica Grujic said.
“Now, it’s time to try to win points to come as close as possible to first four. This is our aim to come in the first four teams,” he added.