Kolkata: There is nothing to choose between Mumbai City FC (MCFC) and Chennaiyin FC (CFC) as they clash in the third quarter-final of the 131st IndianOil Durand Cup, here at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan (VYBK) on Sunday. The match kicks-off at 6.00 pm Indian Standard Time (IST).
The Islanders have come through as group toppers of Group B but only just, while the Marina Machans qualified by finishing a clear second to reigning Indian Super League (ISL) champions Hyderabad FC in Group C. MCFC though will have the advantage of having played their group games at the Kolkata venues while CFC played in Imphal.
That slight conditions advantage may not hold for much at this professional level however and given the quality both sides possess, it will be tough to pick a winner.
“No fitness issues in the team,” said a confident former German international and CFC coach Thomas Brdaric, in the pre-match press conference. “Whether its Champions League or Durand, our approach won’t change,” said an equally calm Des Buckingham of MCFC.
Chennaiyin have been banking heavily on their ace midfielder Anirudh Thapa to deliver the goods and he has so far with as many as five goal contributions. Mumbai on the other hand have the tournament’s highest scorer Lallianzuala Chhangte in their ranks with five goals to his name. Their efforts have helped both their sides to overcome a few problems at the back where they have conceded six (CFC) and seven (MCFC) goals respectively.
A lot will also depend on the foreign players of both sides and the impact they have on the game. The likes of Ahmed Jahouh and Gary Stewart for the Islanders and Vafa and Petar Sliskovic for the Machans have shown the potential to turn games consistently. Des Buckingham also spoke about Murtada Fall having joined the side and the Senegalese defender has been one of the most successful players in Indian football in recent times.
Overall, it has all the makings of a blockbuster game of football.