Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi to welcome Chennaiyin FC, who will be going to play their away match against Kerala Blasters on Friday, Feb 23. The home team will look to extend their unbeaten run to five matches, with one eye on the remote possibility of making the Hero Indian Super League playoffs.
Even though Chennaiyin is not yet assured of qualification for the semi-finals, a defeat will keep them among the top four position. Both teams have two matches left.
The last face-off between these two sides ended with a 1-1 draw. While in the 89th minute, Chennaiyin FC player Rene Mihelic scored for his team, CK Vineeth from Kerala Blasters equalized the scoreline in the 90th minute of the match.
Chennaiyin head coach John Gregory said, "It was a tough schedule for us to play games and then recover for a day before jumping onto the plane again. We're delighted with the number of points we've got from these last four matches."
"I didn't change the team that much so it has been a huge workload for them and says everything about my squad. We're where we are because of our work ethic. Now we come into this game with an unusual four-five days of rest and we are in very good shape," he further added.
"They were struggling when we played them last time, individually and as a team. But with the new coach (David James) coming in with a positive attitude and has totally transformed the team," Gregory said.
The newly appointed coach of Kerala Blasters, James said that there were questions initially about his joining to Kerala for the second time in his career.
In addition to that, he said, "The experience I had as a head coach was also a matter of question but from day one it was always about how Kerala Blasters is about everyone involved with the club and not just the players and the head coach. So without wanting to make it sound too easy, it was still easy to install confidence in everyone with a support staff like mine."
He James also mentioned that he expects Chennaiyin to win tomorrow's battle and both sides will certainly go on an all-out attack. But for Kerala, he said, "we have to win the game and aim for six points (out of two games)."