East Bengal FC, Chennaiyin FC eager to boost playoffs hopes

Kolkata, (UNI) East Bengal FC will host Chennaiyin FC to commence the 17th Matchweek of the Indian Super League (ISL) match at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan here on Monday.

The Red & Gold Brigade and their form has arguably plateaued since their success in the Kalinga Super Cup.

They have collected only four points out of a possible 15 in the ISL since then, and the team is currently languishing in ninth spot in the standings.

With 15 points from as many games, they are five behind (20) the sixth-placed Jamshedpur FC.

However, the Red Miners have also played two additional games compared to them, which suggests that there is still a significant lot to play for if they pull off the right cards in the next seven encounters.

The Marina Machans are in a similar situation, separated by East Bengal FC in the points table only by goal difference.

They have shown glimpses of their potential but failed to apply that consistently, leading them to secure only four wins and three draws after 15 games.

Their inspiring 1-0 win against Bengaluru FC was followed by a 2-0 defeat to Mumbai City FC at home, which explains their failure to get on a run of positive momentum so far.

Maximising home advantage is essential for any side to succeed in the league.

Currently, the Carles Cuadrat-coached side is on a three-match-long winless streak at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan here.

Their previous longer stretch was of four games back in December 2022.

Similarly, Cuadrat doesn’t boast of the best of records against his counterpart Owen Coyle, having faced the Scotsman thrice, drawing twice and losing once until now.

That makes Coyle the only manager Cuadrat is winless against after facing the tactician at least twice, only after Jorge Costa whom the Spaniard squared off against four times without a victory.

They should look to play to their strengths, with their last win coming off a headed goal by Cleiton Silva against Hyderabad FC.

East Bengal FC has an aerial duel success rate of 53.2% in the current campaign, the second highest such rate among all teams this season (Mohun Bagan Super Giant – 56.7%).

Nishu Kumar has been on a roll lately, assisting Silvia’s winner in the aforementioned clash and delivering consistent outputs on both ends of the field.

Chennaiyin FC will encounter an interesting dichotomy in the coming clash.

They are unbeaten in their seven ISL fixtures against East Bengal FC, drawing five times and winning twice.

It is the only side that the Marina Machans holds such a record against in the ISL. Simultaneously, their away run recently has been pretty abysmal.

They have not won any of their last five games on the road, failing to score in the three straight previous matches.

Regardless of their inconsistent outings, the team has bought into Coyle’s ideas, averaging 7.5 high turnovers per match which is the second best only to the 8.5 recorded by FC Goa.

Chennaiyin FC is a side that can be severely lethal on the counter, due to their efficient forward and the presence of an able playmaker in Rafael Crivellaro.

Whether they can set aside their recent struggles away from home will go a long way in determining their fate in the rest of this campaign.

Nandhakumar Sekar of East Bengal FC has unleashed his optimum form in the current season, featuring consistently in the frontline and functioning in tandem with fellow forwards to produce brilliant returns both individually as well as for the team.

The winger has scored four goals and assisted thrice in 15 appearances, averaging a goal contribution every 153.42 minutes on field.

Averaging 19 passes per game, has recorded an accuracy of 74%, taking 60% of his shots on target.

He has drawn nine fouls and created 16 goal-scoring chances, thus ensuring that he delivers all-round, consistent outputs throughout the course of the game.

Ryan Edwards has immediately become a defensive mainstay for Chennaiyin FC, playing 14 matches so far and helping them keep three clean sheets amongst those games.

Edwards has recorded 13 tackles, 16 blocks, and 46 clearances so far this season, making an average of 31 passes per game at 73% accuracy.

He has created four goal-scoring opportunities and also netted once, but will have his task cut out against the Red & Gold Brigade that possesses Nandhakumar, Cleiton Silva, and Naorem Mahesh Singh amongst others functioning at the top of their game.

“It’s important that we create chances, and we create very clear chances that our forwards can score goals from,” East Bengal FC head coach Carles Cuadrat focused on improving his side’s efficiency in front of the goal.

“I think there are a lot of similarities between us and East Bengal FC. It’s a huge game for both teams. The great thing for us is that everything is in our own hands,” Chennaiyin FC head coach Owen Coyle said in the pre-match press conference.

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