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ISL sides Chennaiyin FC and Mumbai City FC clash in Super Cup match


Press Trust of India Bhubaneswar
The main round of the Super Cup, the country's premier knock-out football tournament, begins here on Friday with Chennaiyin FC taking on Mumbai City FC in a round of 16 match.
There were doubts about the tournament being held this time after eight I-League clubs decided to boycott it if the All India Football Federation does not address their grievances in the impending domestic restructuring.
Former champions Minerva Punjab and Aizawl FC as well as Gokulam Kerala did not turn up in the qualifying round matches on March 15 and 16 while I-League runners-up East Bengal Thursday took the decision to give the competition a miss.
However, the All India Football Federation, which has accepted the demand of the clubs to have a meeting with its president Praful Patel, decided to go ahead with the tournament.
And, for Indian Super League sides Chennaiyin FC and Mumbai City FC, it's business as usual as they prepared for Friday's match at the Kalinga Stadium.
Chennaiyin finished at the bottom of the ISL table in the recently concluded season while the Mumbai side made it to the semi-finals.
Chennaiyin head coach John Gregory said his side were taking this competition very seriously.
"I think they (Mumbai) have an advantage because they had a very good season. But we still have a lot to play for, being involved in two Cup competitions. We are treating this competition very seriously and we want to do well," he said at the pre-match press conference.
Gregory said his players would be confident going into the match thanks to their progression in the AFC Cup.
"Yes, it has given us good confidence. Jeje Lalpekhlua has had a difficult season along with the rest of us. But he scored in the Colombo game. He scored the match-winner. That is put a big smile on his face. On the training ground, the players have been excellent, working very hard," he said.
Chennaiyin, the 2015 and 2017-18 ISL champions, is one of the two Indian sides taking part in the AFC Cup, the continent's second tier club competition. They have made it to the AFC Cup main round after 1-0 aggregate win over Colombo FC.
"This time last year we were not that interested because we had just won the Hero ISL. We have been away from home for a long season last year, but we won the championship. So, we were in a much happier frame of mind. But this year, we have not had such a good Hero ISL season. We still want to have this opportunity in the Super Cup, to have a go and try to win it," he said.
Mumbai City FC head coach Jorge Costa also said that his side would want to end the season on a high by doing well in the Super Cup.
"We are here to do our best. We respect this competition a lot. It is the last competition of the season and we want to finish well. We will try to do our best. We will try to go as far as possible starting from tomorrow's game. It is a game we want to win 100%," he said.
He hinted that some young players may be tried out on Friday.
"I have to make some options. We are going to play this competition thinking also about next season. We have only one foreign player, Lucian Goian. And some young players who will have this opportunity to play and to tell me that they have the quality I am looking for next season. So, tomorrow you will see some change in our team," he said.
"Chennaiyin is a very good team. They made a season no one was expecting to be like it was. They have very good Indian players and very good foreign players. So, we are not expecting an easy game tomorrow. We want to do well tomorrow and to go as far as possible in this competition."

Top-six sides each from the I-League and ISL are directly seeded into the Round of 16 while the four lower-ranked teams from both the leagues play in the qualifying round of the Super Cup.

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First Published: Mar 28 2019 | 8:51 PM IST

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