GOA: Chennaiyin FC return to their happy-hunting ground as they seek to upset FC Goa in the final of the Hero Indian Super League in Goa on Sunday.
Chennaiyin FC have won both their matches at the Nehru Stadium, Fatorda since the start of the ISL last year and were brilliant in their 4-0 victory same venue at the start of this season. The victory provides Chennaiyin FC with a psychological edge ahead of the final clash but rival coaches were dismissive of any advantage in such an important clash.
FC Goa were found wanting in that league clash in Goa but Zico said there was no reason to change Goa’s strategy in the final.
“I think there is no reason to change the game. We have come so far playing this way so we will play the same way,” said Zico during the pre-match media briefing on Saturday.
“I think we know the team well but we have lost two times. But the final is different. The ground is same, the ball is same. It’s 50-50 for both teams,” said Zico.
One player who holds the key is Stiven Mendoza, who has previously scored a hat-trick against Goa. The Colombian striker is leading the race for Golden Boot with 12 goals and should be able to make all the difference.
“I don’t think the clash is between Mendoza and Lucio. It’s not a tennis match. The clash is between Goa and Chennai,” said FC Goa marquee Lucio, asked how he would find a way to stop the Colombian striker.
Chennaiyin FC have had a great run winning five of the last six matches. They only lost to Atletico de Kolkata in the second leg semifinal but had done enough in the first leg to see them through.
“We were defeated in the last game. Twenty days ago, we were almost eliminated. We were fighting to survive. Now, despite our win here, it’s a 50-50 game,” said Chennaiyin FC manager Marco Materazzi.
None of the teams have any latest injury concerns with Brazilian midfielder Raphael Augusto missing for Chennaiyin FC, while FC Goa have remained tightlipped over the availability of Brazilian striker Reinaldo. Defender Raju Gaekwad is ruled out with an injury.
Chennaiyin FC marquee player Elano Blumer said they had an added motivation to win the ISL trophy.
“It’s a sad story with the floods in Chennai. We are with the people of Chennai. For sure, the team will play along and for the people of Chennai,” said Elano.
The match will also see a battle for the Golden Glove award with Edel Bete (Chennaiyin FC) and Laxmikant Kattimani (FC Goa) both in contention for the best goalkeeper’s award.