ISL 2016: Chennaiyin FC host Atletico de Kolkata as fight for semi-final spot heats up
Former champions Atletico de Kolkata will take on Chennaiyin FC in the 11th round match of the Indian Super League at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on Sunday.
Chennai: Former champions Atletico de Kolkata are all set to take on Chennaiyin FC in the 11th round match of the Indian Super League (ISL) football tournament at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on Sunday.
Kolkata have never lost to Chennaiyin FC in a league game. Their only loss came in the last edition when they bowed out against Chennaiyin FC in the semi-finals.
Kolkata's coach Jose Molina is also confident that his side will qualify for the knockout stage of the cash-rich league but is well aware that "anything could happen".
"It's not about Chennaiyin FC or us (fighting for the fourth spot). All teams are very close. From Friday's result between Delhi and Pune (which Pune won 4-3), it's more closer," Molina said at the pre-match media briefing.
"Four matches are still left to be played and I think anything can happen. No team can say they will be in semi-finals. We are confident but we have to fight."
Asked if his team's past records against Chennaiyin FC give him confidence that he can navigate a positive result against the hosts, the Spanish coach instead pointed to the present.
"I am absolutely confident. All of us are absolutely confident in the possibilities of our chances. I am absolutely confident in my team, my players, the way we are playing," he said.
Defending champions Chennaiyin FC rescued their campaign with a win against FC Pune City in the previous game and will now feel confident they can grab a place among the top four.
The Marco Materazzi-coached side had gone five matches without a win, their worst run in the ISL, but the Pune win has boosted confidence.
"It has been important," Materazzi said in his pre-match interaction.
Chennaiyin FC are unbeaten in their last four home matches. After conceding three goals in their first home match against Delhi Dynamos, Chennaiyin have conceded only one goal in their last four matches and accrued eight out of their 13 points at home. Only Delhi Dynamos (10) and Kerala Blasters (10) have won more points at home this season.
Interestingly, Chennaiyin FC have kept three clean sheets at home, the most by any home team and their defence has been rock steady, conceding just four goals in five matches.
The defence, though, will be under pressure against Kolkata as they come up against Canadian striker Iain Hume, the leading goal scorer in the ISL. Hume started the campaign slowly scoring both his first goals from penalties in the first phase.
But just like the previous edition, he found form in the second half of the campaign and scored in each of his last three matches.
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The seven-time champions paid the price of not creating enough chances and wasting those they got against a Sri Lankan side 98 places below them in the FIFA rankings.
Stimac said: "We had everything in control, we dominated the game, and had a one-nil advantage, and even had a one-man advantage. But despite all of that, we started giving away simple passes, making unnecessary mistakes."