CHENNAI: Rain and Chennaiyin FC never had the best of relationships. They’ve had a match against NorthEast United suspended for a while because there was too much lightning going around. Then there was that infamous game against Mumbai City played out on a water-logged pitch on the very day Chennai suffered a flood in December 2015. The floods ensured that Chennaiyin never played on home turf again that season, on way to winning the title.
Season four is here and it’s a brave new dawn for Chennaiyin with a new coach and new players. Their equation with rain, though, hasn’t changed much. The season is still more than a week away but Chennaiyin already had their pre-season plans affected by rain.
On Wednesday, the Chennaiyin team flew to Pune for a practice game against fellow ISL club FC Pune City. While the game was scheduled a while ago, concerns over weather prompted Chennaiyin to fly out early.
“We were supposed to go to Pune on November 10,” said a source close to the club. “But we flew out early because we were concerned about the climate. Plus we were headed to Pune anyway, so it made sense to fly out a couple of days early.”
Chennaiyin had returned home from their pre-season camp in Thailand towards the start of the month and was scheduled to train for a couple of days before taking on I-League champions Aizawl FC in a pre-season friendly on November 5. But rain ensured that the players were unable to train and they went straight into the game against Aizawl. They did win the game 1-0.
Chennaiyin’s return to the city, ahead of their first game against FC Goa on October 19, is also subject to how the weather holds up. “We have tickets booked for Monday. But we might decide to stay back a bit further if it rains in Chennai. We have nearly finished work on the turf at JN Stadium. But if it rains, why risk damaging it even before the first game, by training on it,” said sources.
Despite this, new coach John Gregory is happy with the way pre-season is shaping up.
Delhi smogged out
If Chennaiyin’s problem is rain, Delhi Dynamos have something else to contend with — smog. Delhi’s players had a tough couple of days dealing with the heavy smog that has engulfed the capital.
They turned out to train on Wednesday wearing gas masks, with the foreign players especially looking in discomfort. “As of now, we are training according to the previously set plan,” club sources said.
“But if this continues, we will have to think about changing the timings of sessions.”
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