After an entertaining ISL 2016 opening ceremony and a close encounter on Saturday, where NorthEast United FC defeated Kerala Blasters, another humdinger contest is set as Atletico de Kolkata hosts Chennaiyin FC on Sunday. The India vs New Zealand second Test might be going on in Kolkata, but the loyal football fans are going to pour out in numbers to support Atletico de Kolkata.
Atletico de Kolkata and Chennaiyin FC have been two consistent teams in the ISL, as they won the first and second edition respectively. So, one can expect a thrilling contest when two big ISL teams feature in their respective first match of the third edition.
There have been changes in both the teams from last season, but Atletico de Kolkata and Chennaiyin FC have been involved in some serious training to understand one another, their strengths and weakness. One should always remember that is a different matter altogether when it comes to fighting it out in the middle.
Talking about teams, Chennaiyin FC looked a quality side last season with the help of Stiven Mendoza, who will be missed this season. Elano Blumer will be another miss for Chennaiyin FC this season, but they have done well by signing Hans Mulder. With no Mendoza, the club will look for goals from India forward Jeje Lalpekhlua.
Jose Molina, Atletico de Kolkata coach, despite Chennaiyin FC being without star players, feels they are a great team.
"I think Chennai have a strong team. It's true that they lost so many players from last season. But, they have signed some great players again. It's true that they are a strong team," goal.com quoted Molina as saying.
"We don't know how they can play, because it's the first match. We didn't watch any pre-season match. Before the first match, it's always more difficult to know about the opponent. They have the same coach (Marco Materazzi), so I'm sure that it will be a great team again. But, this is a challenge to us; to play in our style; with our supporters, to do our best and again, try to win."
All the eight teams participating in ISL 2016 are aware of the big threat, which Chennaiyin FC possess under the leadership of coach Materazzi, who has found good success with the club.
Atletico de Kolkata were showed the exit doors of ISL 2015 by Chennaiyin FC, and the home team have a wonderful opportunity to take revenge for that loss. But, it is not going to be easy with Channaiyin FC being a solid side.
Atletico de Kolkata come into this ISL 2016 with good preparations. The Ganguly co-owned side participate in the preseason training camp at the Los Angeles de San Rafael in Madrid. They also played a friendly match against local Spanish team Club Atletico (CA) Pinto in Spain, which they won 4-3. Some of the Indian players missed the pre-season training in Spain, but Molina is pleased with the effort and discipline that they have shown in training in Kolkata.
"Some of them couldn't come to Spain and it was a problem for us because, they lost one month in training sessions. I hear what they want and now, after 10 days here in Kolkata, they work really well and I'm really happy with all the players," Molina said.
With this being their respective first match, Atletico de Kolkata and Chennaiyin FC will be eager to start ISL 2016 with a bang. With a number of quality players in both the camps, a cracker of a contest is expected, where goals are guaranteed, and make no mistake, neither Atletico de Kolkata and Chennaiyin FC will not find it easy to clinch three points.
Where to watch live
Atletico de Kolkata vs Chennaiyin FC is scheduled to kick off at 7 p.m. IST (2:30 p.m. BST, 9:30 am ET).
India: TV - Star Sports 1/HD, Star Sports 2/HD (English) Star Sports 3/HD, 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