Friday, Oct 19, 2018 | Last Update : 09:52 PM IST

ISL 4: Can Pune end Chennaiyin jinx?

THE ASIAN AGE. | T.N. RAGHU
Published : Jan 13, 2018, 2:09 am IST
Updated : Jan 13, 2018, 2:09 am IST

ATK defeated hosts NorthEast United FC 1-0 in Guwahati on Friday.

Chennaiyin players Jaime Gavilan and Inigo Calderon at a practice session on Friday. (Photo: E.K. Sanjay)
 Chennaiyin players Jaime Gavilan and Inigo Calderon at a practice session on Friday. (Photo: E.K. Sanjay)

Chennai: Chennaiyin FC would have chosen FC Pune City as their opponents in all 18 league matches of the Indian Super League’s season four had they been in a position to make the fixtures, never having lost to them in seven games. The home team now face Pune yet again, this time in a crucial clash here on Saturday.

Although matches against the Chennai team are always an exercise in futility for Pune, the visitors seem to have been cut from a different cloth this time. Pune aren’t only third on the table, behind Chennaiyin with a point fewer, they have also banged in 18 goals. After three miserable seasons, they finally appear to have found the path to the play-offs.

In addition to their proximity on the table, Chennaiyin and Pune are also united by the suspension of their coaches — John Gregory and Ranko Popovic. The assistant coaches of the two teams were sanguine about their chances on Saturday.

Vladica Grujic of Pune hit the nail on the head when he said a series of wins at the half-way stage of the league would propel a team to the play-offs. “There is not much between teams. We have achieved nothing yet because you can be first, fourth or last. Now, it’s time to try to win points to come as close as possible to the first four,” he said.

Pune will be without top scorer and talisman Marcelinho who is away in Brazil for personal reasons. If there is one proven performer in the ISL, it’s the Brazilian. The dynamic forward, last year’s Golden Boot winner, has six goals and four assists to his name this season. Grujic put on a brave face, though, about Marcelinho’s absence. “Marcelinho is one of the best players in the league. We will surely miss him but I know our team has quality. If a team can’t play without one player, it’s no team,” he added.

Zequinha lifts ATK

ATK defeated hosts NorthEast United FC 1-0 in Guwahati on Friday.

Portuguese Zequinha scored the winning goal with a fine volley in the 73rd minute. ATK moved to sixth in the standings with 12 points from nine matches while NorthEast remained at ninth with seven points after nine outings.

Tags: chennaiyin fc, indian super league