Two-times winner and one of the most successful side in India's top-flight, Chennai, will kick start its Indian Football League 2020-21 campaign with a Tuesday clash against Jamshedpur.
Chennai finished as the runner-up side last season, while Jamshedpur ended their 2019-20 campaign with the 8th spot in the table.
Match Timings: Nov 24, 7:30 PM IST
Chennai got two silverware in 2019-20 as they lost to Kolkata in Indian Football League Final 3-1, followed by a 2-1 defeat to Goa in Super Cup final. In AFC Cup, the Blues finished second in Group E with three wins, one draw, and one defeat. They fell short of two points from Abahani Dhaka to qualify for the next stage. Chennai will now face their former manager Owen Coyle who took charge of Jamshedpur for the new season. He led Chennai to the final of the Indian Football League and Indian Super Cup 2019-20. Hungarian Csaba Laszlo replaced Coyelo, and they also signed few prominent players.
Chennai has a good mix-up of young Indian players such as Anirudh Thapa, Lallianzuala Chhangte, Jerry Lalrinzuala, Edwin Sydney Vanspaul, Vishal Kaith, Germanpreet Singh. These players were also available in Chennai's glorious season under Coyelo. In the experience, they have Lalchhuanmawia at left-back and Reagan Singh at right-back.
The 2019-20 runner-ups have replaced five overseas players for the new season, and they would rely more on their Indian unit, specially Thapa. In pre-season friendlies, they missed their foreign players due to quarantine rules and suffered two defeats against Mumbai and Goa without scoring a goal. In the last pre-season game, they overcame Odisha 2-1, courtesy of Thapa and Rahim Ali's strike.
Meanwhile, the struggling Jamshedpur got the big man, Coyelo as their new head coach, who inspired Chennai to the last edition's finale. After making a debut three years ago, Jamshedpur haven't qualified for the playoffs of the tournament. In last season, they finished eighth with four wins and six draws from 18 matches. Jamshedpur conceded 35 goals in 2019-20, which shows their lack of mature defense.
The task for the Red Miners is not stopping after the inclusion of I-League giants this season. With Coyelo as the new manager, they also got Laldinliana Renthlei from Chennai. Former A-League player Nicholas Fitzgerald and Spanish forward David Grande can provide stability with Lithuanian. The Red Outfit also signed English player Peter Hartley and Nigerian Stephen Eze in center-backs. Hartley will be the new captain of Jamshedpur. With the inclusion of 2019-20 Golden Boot winner Nerijus Valskis, the Red Miners can challenge Chennai on Tuesday.
Ahead of the new season, the Red outfit played three pre-season games and went winless in all. They fought hard against Goa in a 5-goals thriller, and Kerala thrashed them with 3-0. In the final outing, they played a goalless draw with North East.