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ISL 2022-23: Chennaiyin FC eye perfect homecoming against Bengaluru FC

The Indian Super League (ISL) 2022-23 is finally returning to the southeast coast after two years with a rip-roaring encounter between Chennaiyin FC and Bengaluru FC expected at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Chennai. 

football ISL 2022-23: Chennaiyin FC eye perfect homecoming against Bengaluru FC snt
First Published Oct 14, 2022, 8:00 AM IST

When Bengaluru FC and Chennaiyin FC square off in a thrilling southern derby of the Indian Super League (ISL) 2022–23 on Friday in Chennai, the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium will once more be packed with enthusiastic supporters as football action returns to the city after two and a half years.

Making their long-awaited return to the city, Chennaiyin will enter the game in good spirits after getting their season off to a strong start by defeating ATK Mohun Bagan 2-1 in the inaugural match earlier this week.

Anirudh Thapa, the team's captain, stated to the media that having home support is always advantageous during the pre-game news conference on Thursday.

“It’s a good feeling to be in Chennai, at the Marina Arena with the home crowd after two seasons. We have seen in the past seasons how home and away [format] gives you advantages and disadvantages. Fans finally coming back is a positive thing for us,” he said.

Also read: ISL 2022-23: FC Goa pulls off dramatic late winner to down East Bengal

Bengaluru FC, on the other hand, will also enter the match after winning their first game against NorthEast United FC 1-0.

Head coach Thomas Brdaric, who also addressed the press, spoke about the challenges of the Bengaluru FC game. “We have to be very well prepared to face Bengaluru FC because they are an experienced team. We have to be very careful, especially with our backs. We have to defend as a team and put them under pressure so that they don’t fulfil their strengths in our stadium,” Brdaric commented.

football ISL 2022-23: Chennaiyin FC eye perfect homecoming against Bengaluru FC snt

Besides Kwame Karikari’s goal on his impressive ISL debut and Rahim Ali’s brilliant winner, goalkeeper Debjit Majumder also stood tall in defence for Chennaiyin with four clearances and six saves.

Thapa also emphasised the importance of being consistent with having a successful season.

“I think we need to be consistent with the performances. The first half of the game against ATK Mohun Bagan was quite slow, we lost quite a few balls and positions also. I think in the second half, we came back pretty well and that’s what we need to do for the full 90 minutes. If we keep the momentum going, I think we will have a pretty good season.”

Due to the pandemic, the last two editions of ISL were held in Goa without fans. However, the league has returned to its traditional home and away format from this season with the fans supporting from the stadiums.

In their last game in front of the home crowd in 2020, Marina Machans thrashed FC Goa 4-1 in the first leg of the semi-final before their runners-up finish that season.

Also read: ISL 2022-23: Who is Nasser El Khayati, the veteran Dutch midfielder signed by Chennaiyin FC?

“The last memory I have is the game against FC Goa. The atmosphere you [fans] created, all the players were motivated when we were just entering the stadium and I hope this year also fans will come back with the same energy and same passion. We will play for the club and for the fans because that’s what this club is for. We will give our best,” the 24-year-old star Indian midfielder concluded.  

The two-time champions will look to carry forward the momentum and improve their head-to-head record against their southern rivals, Bengaluru FC. In their 11 previous meetings, Chennaiyin have won two games and lost seven while two ended in draws.  

Matches: 11, CFC: 2, BFC: 7 Draw: 2

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