Chennai: Having lost two of their three home matches, Chennaiyin FC would clash with NorthEast United in a crucial second phase league match in the Indian Super League football here tomorrow.
It would be the vital tie for Chennaiyin to keep their semifinal hopes intact, while the NorthEast, who have won the home match against Chennaiyin, would like to do the double to improve their standings.
Last year, the hosts made good of their home matches but this year, they have lost two matches including the one against FC Goa in the second phase and won against Pune city last month. The hosts, who are currently in fifth spot with 11 points, would like to get back to their winning ways.
However, Cesar Farias-coached NorthEast United are in great form having secured 10 points after a bad start this season and are high on confidence having won against Atletico de Kolkata with an early goal.
Farias said he was aware of the playing style of Chennaiyin but would focus on his side's strength. Former Portuguese international Simao Sabrosa and Argentine Nicolas Velez have the lynchpin of NorthEast attack and Farias would hope that the duo would continue their impressive form tomorrow also.
"We are focusing on our strength and would be keen to execute our plans," said Farias.
On the other hand, Chennaiyin coach Marco Materazzi said, "Every match from now on would be crucial and it is time to set things right for a berth in play-offs."
As goalkeeper Karanjit Singh would be absent due to national duty, Materazzi would opt for tall Ede Bete at the goal and bring in Bikramjit Singh in place of Harmanjot Khabra who received second red card in the match against FC Goa.
Chennaiyin have conceded six 'spot' goals from seven penalties and they have a difficult task of protecting their marquee player Elano Blumber who has so far received two yellow cards. A third yellow card would mean he would be benched.
Fikru Teferra and Bernard Mendy too have received yellow cards in last match against Goa. At this stage of the league, Chennaiyin players have to be disciplined in order to avoid punishments by referee.