Chennai City FC, who have had an impeccable season winning 10 out of their 15 games so far, will take on Manipuri side Neroca FC in a return leg fixture on February 11, which will begin their final push towards the maiden National league triumph in their short four year history.
The crucial game will be played at the Khuman Lampak stadium in Imphal. The visitors are sitting atop the table with 33 points but can ill-afford to drop their guard.
Neroca, who fell away a bit in their campaign in recent times, losing three of their last four games, are placed at the fifth position with 25 points from 16 games and are still among at least three other chasing teams with a realistic shot at the coveted I-League crown.
"We will be playing tomorrow against Chennai not for the first position but for the best position. We will be playing at home and that is important and we will go all out and try to take the three points," Neroca coach Manuel Fraile said on the eve of the match.
"It is an important match. I think Chencho (Gyeltshen) will score again against Chennai City. If tomorrow Chennai make mistakes and we are in a good momentum and play our style, we might win although it is hard to play against Chennai," he said.
Chennai have had so much riding on their 'Spanish Penta', which includes the keeper Santana this season and they have almost always delivered. They have scored 27 of their 33 goals so far and even in the last game against the Indian Arrows, Sandro Rodriguez' impeccable free-kick helped break the deadlock in the second half.
"We hope for a much better and improved performance against Neroca. It is going to be a competitive match. We all know how Neroca can cause damage with their strikers. Neroca is known for pace in their attack and counters too, so we have to be prepared for this," Chennai coach Akbar Nawas said.
Given the context and the desperation of Chennai to get a result, it is all set to be a cracker between Neroca FC and Chennai City FC at the Khuman Lampak Stadium in Imphal on February 11.
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