The first South Indian derby of ISL 2016 is here and it is absolutely buzzing in Chennai. Defending Indian Super League champions Chennaiyin FC take on Kerala Blasters at the Marina Arena on Saturday in the penultimate league game of the first phase of the Indian football league this season.
Both teams are level on points at the moment. While Chennaiyin FC, coached by Marco Materazzi, are fourth in the ISL 2016 points table following eight points from five games, Kerala Blasters, coached by Steve Coppell, are also on the same number of points from six games. Both teams also have two wins in the season so far.
Coppell had some words of praise for the defending champions ahead of the game. "If you look at Chennai, they're arguably the best team. They won the league phase in the first year topping the table and they won the league last year. They have a strong squad and they have a formula," the experienced English football coach said.
"You want to play against the best team and see where you sit and it'll be a difficult task and I see that in all their games they've played this year, they have got a variety of styles and it's a challenge for the coach playing against. You want to do well as they're arguably the best and you want to judge yourself against the best."
Amazingly, in a total of six meetings between them in the Indian Super League, Chennaiyin FC have won on four occasions, while Kerala Blasters have won only once. The other match has turned out as a draw.
However, for the former Italy defender, who won the FIFA World Cup in 2006, past results do not count. "No, previous games don't have to have any influence. Because if they did then, we would have lost our games after the Delhi match [which Chennai lost 1-3]," mentioned Materazzi. "I was disappointed, maybe it was the worst game I had in three years of the ISL. My players, however, were mature to change their attitude and I'm happy they proved it on the pitch," the Italian said.
The positive news is neither of the sides have major injury concerns going into the game.
Chennaiyin FC: Bernard Mendy, John Arne Riise, Jeje Lalpekhlua.
Kerala Blasters: Mohammad Rafi, Kervens Belfort, Josu.
Chennaiyin FC vs Kerala Blasters is scheduled to kick off at 7 pm IST (2.30 pm BST) on October 29 .
Where to watch live
India: TV - Star Sports 2/HD2.
Star Gold, Star Utsav (Hindi).
Jalsha Movies (Bengali).
Asianet Movies (Malayalam).
Asianet Suvarna Plus (Kannada).
Live streaming - Hotstar.
Europe: TV - Star Gold.
Australia, USA: TV - Fox Sports
Canada: TV - CBN, ATN Bangla
Bangladesh: TV - Channel 9
South-East Asia: TV - Eurosport