Pune, Dec 4 (IANS) Chennaiyin FC need only a draw to qualify for the Indian Super League (ISL) semi-finals and coach Marco Materazzi dismissed suggestions that an altered travel plan could leave them exhausted ahead of their crucial concluding league clash against FC Pune City in Pune on Saturday.
Chennaiyin FC travelled by road from Chennai to Tirupati air base and then chartered a flight to Mumbai after Chennai was submerged under flood water due to incessant rain. The travel to Pune took considerable time but Materazzi said it would not be a disadvantage. “When you have this kind of chance, this kind of game, it does not matter how much you travel. Would have done the distance even walking but I am thinking of the people of Chennai who are suffering. We are privileged people and it does not matter if we travel for one or two days,” Materazzi said during the pre-match media briefing on Friday.
Fourteen days ago, Chennaiyin FC were at the bottom of the table but Materazzi’s team has scripted a remarkable turnaround with big wins over Kerala Blasters (4-1), Delhi Dynamos (4-0) and Mumbai City FC (3-0). “It’s about the players because they had what it took to put in practice what I told them. I kept telling them they had the technical skills, they only had to play as a team. It’s largely because of the intelligence of my players,” said Materazzi.
Chennaiyin FC are placed fifth at the moment with 19 points from 13 matches, just one behind NorthEast United FC. Chennaiyin have a better goal average compared to NorthEast United and only a FC Pune City win will knock them out of the league. FC Pune City are already out of the league but coach David Platt will not take it easy. “We are approaching this game professionally. There is no other word for it. This game means nothing for us in terms of what we can achieve. We have not qualified but we have to be professional and prepare for this game like we have done before,” Platt said. Platt said the league provided them with sufficient chances to qualify for the semi-finals but Pune City could not capitalise.
“To not win for six games and still get an opportunity, that’s the way the league is. Everyone has had a bad patch. There is a great deal of parity,” he said. FC Pune City last won against Kerala Blasters on October 27 and has since then they have not won a game in seven attempts. Interestingly, FC Pune City have won four of their six matches at home and only lost against Delhi Dynamos infront of their home crowd.