Chennai: Strong title contender Chennaiyin FC would be hoping to cash in on home advantage when they take on defending champions Atletico de Kolkata in the inaugural match of the second season of Hero Indian Super League, here on Saturday.
Having sorted out the grey areas that existed last year, particularly in the mid-field and defense, Chennaiyin FC has roped in some strong players from Brazil and Italy for the upcoming season.
Chennayin had also retained the core of the squad that enabled them to top the league stages last year.
The home team's star mid-fielder and golden boot winner last year with nine goals, Elano Blumer of Brazil would play a significant role in determining Chennaiyin's fortunes this year as well.
Besides replacing some players like Mikael Silvestre and Eric Djemba-Djemba with Italian midfielders Manuele Blasi and defender Allessandro Potenza, Chennayin had also recruited Brazilian mid-fielder Raphael Augusto and defenders Eder Monteiro and Mailson Alves.
The icing on the cake for Chennaiyin turned out to be the signings of Ethiopian striker Fikru and Cameroon's goalkeeper Apoula Edima Edel Bete, both of whom migrating from Ahteltico de Kolkata.
And come this year, the southern outfit would look to the duo to dish out game changing performances that both produced in the inaugural season of the tournament.
Chennayin manager-cum-player Marco Materazzi had made sure that in his team at least two players are fighting for each position, which will give enough depth and balance to the side.
On the other hand, Athletico de Kolkata have signed Japanese born Indian midfielder Arata Izumi and defender Rino Anto. Besides the title holders have also roped in four domestic stars -- Lalchhawnkima, Augustine Fernandes, Amrinder Singh and Kunzang Bhutia.
Athletico de Kolkata have made significant changes to their team this year. The team management's decision to release players like Fikru, Luis Garcia and Jofre Mateu, who played a key role in their title-winning run, has definitely raised a few eyebrows.
But despite the lay offs, Athletico de Kolkata sports the look of a champion side.