ISL 2016 Match 2: Atletico de Kolkata vs Chennaiyin FC preview
The winners of the last two season go against each other to start of their campaigns.
Atletico de Kolkata coach Jose Molina has downplayed suggestions that his side will be out to seek revenge against defending champions Chennaiyin FC in their opening match of the Indian Super League (ISL) at Rabindra Sarobar stadium on Sunday.
Atletico de Kolkata surrendered their title to Chennaiyin FC in the semi-finals last season but a year later as the two teams square up again, the new Kolkata coach does not want to look at what happened last season.
“I think in football it’s not about revenge. They won last season and we can do nothing about that. If we win tomorrow against Chennaiyin FC, we will not play last season’s final. It’s already over. This is not a revenge match; it’s a new season,” the Spanish coach said in his pre-match interaction with the media.
Molina is new to the Indian Super League and takes over from another Spanish coach, Antonio Lopez Habas, who was successful in his first two seasons. The coach, however, is looking forward to his introduction to the ISL, although he has been left in no doubt that it will be a tough encounter.
“Of course, this is my first match in the ISL and I am happy about that. We had a good pre-season in Spain and now 10 days in Kolkata. I think we are ready. I have confidence in my players and the team. To start against the champions is also difficult. They are a strong team and it will be a tough match but like I told you before, I have absolute confidence in my team,” said Molina.
Atletico de Kolkata have retained a majority of their players from last season. There are however plenty of changes to the domestic players and all of them have impressed the coach so far.
“Absolutely happy with the Indian players. They are trying to improve and learn. Sometimes it’s a problem with the language but I told them to ask me if they have any doubt. Some of the Indian players couldn’t join us in Spain for pre-season but during the 10 days of training here, they have worked really well,” he said.
Defending champions Chennaiyin FC will start their campaign to defend the title without their talismanic striker Stiven Mendoza, who won the Golden Boot and Golden Ball last season. Brazilian striker Bruno Pelissari, who was with them for the first two seasons, is also not around but coach Marco Materazzi has snared foreign strikers, including Nigerian striker Dudu Omagbemi, and believes they can get the job done.
Much will also depend on star striker Jeje Lalpekhlua, who has taken Indian football by storm in the last 18 months, scoring heavily at both the domestic and international level.