Panaji: There will be plenty of familiarness when Jamshedpur FC and Chennaiyin FC lock horns in the 2021-22 Indian Super League at the Athletic Stadium in Bambolim on Sunday.
Once of Chennaiyin, Owen Coyle brought along with him Nerijus Valskis to Jamshedpur last season. The lethal marksman completes a dramatic transfer back to the team where he scored 15 goals, leading them to the ISL final two seasons ago.
However, the Lithuanian striker will sit out the game on Sunday and will only be eligible to don the Super Machan shirt again next week.
“I have known Valskis for a long time. We were looking for a foreigner who will bring in the goals. He is a good character and knows the team. For us, this was the best option we could go ahead with,” Chennaiyin Head Coach Bozidar Bandovic commented on his latest acquisition.
On one side, Chennaiyin have suffered two back-to-back defeats and the more worrying factor for coach Bozidar Bandovic would be his usually watertight defence looking a bit shaky. Chennaiyin did not have the rub of the green against Bengaluru FC in their last game but starting from goalkeeper Vishal Kaith to the backline, the former champions looked shaky.
The good part has been Mirlan Murzaev’s growing influence on the team. He has scored two goals and provided two assists for Chennaiyin FC in 21-22 ISL. He is their joint leading scorer along with Vladimir Koman.
Jamshedpur failed to win their last two games, sharing the spoils with Bengaluru FC and Kerala Blasters FC. The Owen Coyle-coached side have played some eye-catching football so far with Greg Stewart at the heart of their good shows.
Stewart has scored five goals and has four assists to his name this season His nine-goal contributions in the league are the joint highest along with Igor Angulo (9). The Scottish attacker has already made heads turn and along with the likes of Jordan Murray, Jitendra Singh, Alexandre Lima the team has looked solid more often than not.
“Everybody would accept Jamshedpur has done really well and deserve more points on the board. What we have to do is focus on the remaining games and make sure we keep ourselves in those top spots,” Coyle said.
When Chennaiyin and Jamshedpur face each other on Sunday, it will be a contest between two teams who are on the opposite ends of the spectrum of attacking efficiency. Jamshedpur take more shots per game than any other team in ISL 21-22 with 14.5 shots. Despite being above average in this metric, Chennaiyin are the least accurate shooters in the league.
Lallianzuala Chhangte could play his 50th match for Chennaiyin, becoming the seventh player to make 50 or more appearances for the two-time ISL champions. JFC’s Mobashir Rahman is also lined up to achieve a similar feat.