CHENNAI: The 10th edition of the I-League is almost upon us. The coming season of India’s premier club competition will see two new teams — Chennai City FC and Minerva Punjab FC take to the field here on Sunday.
With the two sides getting very less time in terms of preparation, it will be an uphill task. Chennai coach Robin Charles Raja, however, refused to use time as an excuse. “It’s a big honour for the city to be a part of the league. We’re fully focussed on the job at hand.
“Rohit Ramesh (owner) and the team management have done a brilliant job considering the time at hand. We’ve recruited smartly, and hopefully results will follow,” he told Express on Friday.
It will also be a big test for the AFC A licence coach, as it will be his bow in the world of high-profile management. The team completed its foreign slots with Zohib Islam Amiri of Afghanistan joining as part of the Asian quota. They had already recruited Brazilian attackers Marcos Tank and Charles, with former Mohun Bagan defender Echezona Anyichie completing the foreign quota. With a healthy mix of experience and youth, the home side will be confident of logging points in their first-ever fixture.
“We’re like a new born baby. You cannot expect a baby to run at the first attempt. But we’ll give it our best shot. The first match is always important, and since it’s a home match, we’ll go for all three points,” the 50-year-old added.
Minerva, the other debutants, have an air of mystery about them, apart from the fact that they are being led by former East Bengal striker Manandeep Singh. And Robin has warned his side against complacency. “We don’t know much about them. It’s the same case with them, as they don’t know much about us. Hopefully, the match will be an entertaining encounter.”
With 18 rounds, the new season will be long and taxing for all teams, with travelling set to be a major issue. Robin wants to maximise output from home games. “I want crowds to come out and support us in full voice. It’ll take two-three games to really get going, but our aim is to make our city and state proud,” he signed off.
Caldeira signs up
Bengaluru FC’s Darren Caldeira joined the city club on Friday. He tweeted out his joining, saying. “Delighted to have signed for @ChennaiCityFC. Looking forward to the @ILeagueOfficial season ahead. Raring to go!!”