In a battle between the clubs from the southern India, defending champion Bengaluru FC take on the newbie Chennai City FC in the second round of I-League 2016-17 at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium.
Not many times the city witnessed a South Indian derby before, last time it was played was in 2011-12 season, between Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and Chirag United Club Kerala. Last time a match between clubs from Karnataka and Tamil Nadu was played in 2002-03, the seventh edition of erstwhile National Football League.
In that season, Chennai had Indian Bank and Bengaluru had Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and Indian Telephone Industries (ITI). In a 12-team league, Indian Bank survived relegation while HAL and ITI finished 11th and 12th respectively and were relegated in the next season.
After a convincing win at the start of the new season, Coach Albert Roca was upbeat and, “We are at a stage to build up something, have to be consistent and try to make things that we are prepared for. Our intention is to keep the team spirit that we have shown to our supporters in the first game.”
BFC have bolstered defence department by adding National player Sandesh Jinghan.
“Sandesh is a good player, he can help us to be stronger, but we have to give him time to settle down mentally, we can’t pressurise him for tomorrow’s game. I know I’m counting on him and I am sure he’ll be important for us in the future.”
The former Barcelona assistant coach looked content with the existing squad.
“We have enough good players, I don’t expect any other players joining us. I am happy, we have a good balance in all departments. This is the squad I like!”
Roca sounded cautious about his opponent and said, “Chennai City FC have got a good squad with most of the players having a prior experience of playing in Hero I-League, they will also be hoping to score and put us in trouble. I am expecting tomorrow’s game to be difficult than the last one,” adds the Spaniard.
Roca is not in favour of making too many changes and said, “Our first game was good, I don’t want to make too many changes, but the other players must be ready to get in as we are playing the next two matches within a week.”
Coached by Robin Charles Raja, Chennai City bolstered their lineup by adding players having experience in I-League – Karanjit Singh, Debabrata Roy, and Denson Devadas, foreigners Haroon Amiri and Echezona, and local boys Dharmaraj Ravanan and Dhanpal Ganesh.
Charles is hopeful for tomorrow’s match and said, “We have started on a positive note, our first game was a draw, and we surely want to do well in the other matches.”
With not enough pre-season and late signings, they have a task cut out.
Chennai City FC must be seeking inspiration from the other big club from South, “BFC maybe a different club but they too are from the same zone. Heard a lot about BFC. We are looking up to BFC as a role model, we’re learning, and hopefully we’ll catch up with them in coming days.”
Raja further added, “We’ll give a tough time to Bengaluru FC tomorrow, and we’ll do well as a team!”