With only 3 games to go for each team, this is proving to be the last stretch of the great race for the knockout spots. Chennaiyin FC, unlike others like Kerala Blasters FC, don’t have to worry so much about their qualification because they are in a very good position league table position wise.
Still, this doesn’t mean that they can let complacency creep into their game and no one will know this more than their Head Coach, Marco Materazzi. Materazzi, a FIFA World Cup winner with Italy, will bring all his top flight experience to bear on his players.
Besides, seeing the big and dangerous guy staring at you like you need to do more should be enough for any man to buck his game up. You can rest assured that Materazzi will be giving them all the looks they deserve especially after their humbling, nay, humiliating defeat to Northeast United FC
David James will try to have the same impact on his players and he has the 6’ 2’’ stature to make it happen too. Add to that his, ruggedly dangerous looks with stubble and you have a dangerous cocktail of highly flammable material.
Honestly, his players may also need a firm foot up their rumps because their last defeat was no less humiliating than Chennaiyin FC’s. This one shaped up to be a perfect one for the neutrals like me*.
Kerala Blasters FC & Chennaiyin FC Team News
A host of changes were made by both player managers. Kerala Blasters FC’s changes had a wholesale nature to them as they replaced 6 players from their starting line-up.
I won’t go into each and every one but the most important ones were that Falvey and Hume were played while Hengbart was hooked.
I predicted Hume and Falvey’s inclusion but missed Hengbart entirely. In hindsight, it’s not a bad change because Hengbart was looking lethargic with fatigue in his last outing.
There was an interesting change for Chennaiyin FC too as Materazzi chose Cristian over Bruno Pelissari. Bruno Pelissari had a sorry excuse for a game last time out so it’s not a surprise that Materazzi chose to remove him from his starting line-up.
A Tentative First Half
Chennaiyin FC looked far more confident than the Keralites in the first few minutes of the first half. But, the match quickly settled into the midfield battle that was expected to be the centrepiece of this clash.
There were constant breaks in the play and the game looked slightly sluggish. David James went down again in the 19th minute as he was in the last game.
In the press conference before the game, James had said that he was completely fit to continue but it seems that he was overly positive about his fitness levels.
James went off for Sandip Nandy. It was a typical case of youth being brought on for a veteran. Sandip Nandy is 39 while David James is 44!
The Kerala Blasters FC player Sandesh Jhingan looks like a very good right back. The Indian Super League official website describes him as a central defender and I can see by his style how he can play in central defence too.
I think he has a bright future just like Romeo Fernandes of FC Goa. He is my second pick as a player to watch out for. I believe the ISL has done him a world of good too. He’s constantly improved from one game to the next. Keep an eye out for him. He’ll be a star**.
The rest of the game continued to be a midfield battle with consistent turnovers. There is virtually nothing substantial worth reporting. Let’s hope the second half turns out to be better.
The Second Half Fails To Entertain As Expected
Within one minute of the second half, Kerala Blasters FC created a good chance for Hume. The ball was put through the defence to set Hume free who skewed the ball wide of the far post.
The second half was slightly better than the first in terms of continuity but it was still a midfield battle. However the slight improvement did give me hope that the game would light up as it progressed.
David James did try to help the game by bringing on Pedro Gusmao, a midfielder, for the ineffective Avinabo Bag, who is a defender. Materazzi tried the same thing by bringing on Pelissari for Cristian.
Unfortunately, the game was quite slow and boring. Its games like these that give football a bad name. Granted, both teams wouldn’t have minded a single point from a tough game but still, it’s the watchers who suffer.
One Goal To Rule Them All!
Chennaiyin FC’s Pelissari did provide a moment of brilliance in the game. He ran with the ball from Chennaiyin FC’s all the way from 18 yard box to Kerala’s box and scored with a left footed curler.
That goal was so wonderful that it wouldn’t have been out of place in any of the high profile football leagues that you watch.
Heck, the Messi’s and Ronaldo’s would’ve appreciated that goal. Kerala Blasters FC 0 – 1 Chennaiyin FC.
With that goal, Chennaiyin FC go 5 points clear at the top of the table. I don’t think they’ll be caught now by anyone in the league. Materazzi will be very happy.
My Conclusion of a Poor Match
This was a game between two teams that were more interested in not losing than winning.
I expected Kerala Blasters FC to be a little more adventurous in the latter part of the second half but they seemed to lack the cutting edge required.
Chennaiyin FC did have the cutting edge in the form of Pelissari though. That goal made watching the game almost worth it.
Kerala Blasters FC were woeful, however. Watching them try to not lose while trying to get a goal was depressing at best. In the end Kerala Blasters FC deserved what they got. They were at home and they couldn’t go for 3 points with 60,000 fans behind them?
I feel bad for Jhingan, Hume, and co. This was a tactical mistake from David James than a mistake of their players. Serves them right to lose on a counterattack for playing like this.
Chennaiyin FC will be very happy with the result. They had a wonderful strategy of snuffing out Kerala Blasters and they implemented it perfectly. To be honest, their tactical plan was helped by the home team’s poor strategy.
*Psst! I have a small leaning towards Chennaiyin FC even though I prefer FC Goa.
**Oye Wenger! You need a defender and can’t find one. Take Jhingan and groom him why don’t you?