Blasters have one foot in the final

Football Indian Super League: Chennai stare at 0-3 deficit

Blasters have one foot in the final

Chennaiyin FC have their task cut out as they seek to overturn a 0-3 deficit against Kerala Blasters in the second leg semifinal of the Indian Super League football here on Tuesday.

Table toppers in the group stage, Chennaiyin FC had been humbled by the Sachin Tendulkar-owned Blasters in the away leg last-four clash two days ago at Kochi.

And quite like the manner in which Kerala Blasters produced their best show in front of their fans, the Chennai outfit would look to make the home advantage count, though they will have to do much more than just relying on what is expected to be a packed crowd at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.

High on confidence after the result in the first leg semifinal, the visitors would look to guard against complacency as the Chennaiyin team has the wherewithal to effect a turnaround.

But for that, the hosts will have to raise their game to another level. The return of the tournament’s top scorer Elano of Brazil and the arrival of the Italian World Cup winner Alessandro Nesta has definitely made Chennaiyin FC look strong on paper and the time is ripe to deliver the goods on the field.

Chennaiyin FC’s marquee manager-cum-player Marco Materazzi knows it too well that his side didn’t play to its potential in the first semi, and it will be important for them that he succeeds in making his players believe in their ability to stage a fightback. For the Chennaiyins, it will be nothing less than a Herculean task to wipe out the three-goal deficit against a side whose confidence has sky-rocketed.

In the first leg, two quick goals, which came in a two-minute spell just before the half-hour mark through right winger Ishfaq Ahmed and striker Iain Hume, virtually killed the game which had looked an even contest till then. Kerala-born substitute Sushanth Mathew then added the third goal with a phenomenal long-ranger just before the referee blew the final whistle.

That they conceded two goals in a very short span of time is a fair indicator that Chennaiyin’s back four cracked under pressure. While the frontmen did their job to perfection, the Blasters defence was equal to the task in denying the opposition strikers, and experienced goalkeeper Sandip Nandy too did a brilliant job.

Elano, a very dangerous player with set pieces, will look to get his scoring touch back after a none-too-impressive outing in Kochi.

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