ISL: Mumbai City FC to battle against Chennaiyin FC

New Delhi: Mumbai City FC will get some relief from their injury worries as they welcome their India stars ahead of a crucial third round Hero Indian Super League (ISL) battle against Chennaiyin FC in Mumbai on Friday.

India captain Sunil Chhetri and goalkeeper Subrata Paul are expected to straightway get the nod from marquee-player-cum-manager Nicolas Anelka, who has not been able to pick from his complete squad with as many as eight players sitting out of the first two matches, either due to injuries or national duty. Without a win in the first two matches, Mumbai City know they have to start winning quick but up against a side that defeated FC Goa 4-0 for the biggest away win in the competition, the hosts will not have it easy.

“We are happy to have three of our national team players back. We know that Mumbai City did not win any of our first two matches but we now have five matches at home and we believe this will be the start of everything,” said Mumbai City assistant coach Oscar Bruzon. “The team is excited as they line up in front of their home fans. They are keen to show all that they have,” said Bruzon. Brazilian midfielder Andre Moritz has left the club due to personal reasons but Bruzon said they are instead focusing on the players who are available for Friday’s all-important clash. “There are (still) a couple of muscle injuries. We are trying to find a solution. We will still not be at full strength tomorrow but I don’t think it’s proper to give out the names (of those missing) and strengthen our opposition,” said the Spanish coach.

Mumbai opted for an all-foreign defence against Kerala Blasters and made a change only towards the later stages of the game when French striker Frederic Piquionne was introduced in attack. That could all change as Subrata and Chhetri will provide the coach with good domestic options to choose from. Chennaiyin FC are on a high after clobbering FC Goa 4-0. Colombian striker Stiven Mendoza scored a stunning hat-trick, the first of the season, and marquee player Elano Blumer set-up two of the goals with crafty defence-splitting passes, besides himself getting on the scoresheet.“More than the four goals that we scored, I was pleased with the clean sheet. We have to now stay focused,” said Chennaiyin FC manager Marco Materazzi.

Chennaiyin FC lost their first two matches against Atletico de Kolkata and Delhi Dynamos, two of the more stronger teams in the competition. But after a stunning 4-0 victory over FC Goa, Chennaiyin FC have done well to instill fear in the minds of their opponents. “In the first game we were punished for defensive mistakes. In the second game, they scored early and then defended,” said Materazzi.