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Tension in the air as Kerala Blasters fac ​e ​ Chennaiyin FC



KOCHI: The Southern derby in the Hero Indian Super League has always been fierce and it is unlikely to change when Kerala Blasters square up to Chennaiyin FC in a 10th round battle at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Kochi, on Saturday.

Ever since Kerala Blasters knocked out Chennnaiyin FC in the semi-finals of the first edition, things have never been the same between the two teams and that rivalry was reignited after a fracas between the two teams in Chennai this year. Coach Marco Materazzi was suspended for “misconduct against opponents or persons other than match officials” and the atmosphere at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium is likely to be heated tomorrow.

“The message to my players is the same for every game. It’s not a good idea to play 10 versus 11. Discipline is vitally important. I think there was a misunderstanding in the last game,” said Kerala Blasters coach Steve Coppell, referring to Materazzi’s friction with one of his player after the drawn encounter.

Kerala Blasters did well to secure an important win against FC Goa in their last home clash and Coppell believes they have no time to relax in their pursuit for a place in the semi-finals.

“Every game is a challenge, a fresh challenge. I look at the league and it seems as if game by game upsets are happening. Without doubt, any team in the league is capable of beating any other team. So you can never relax. You have to be at the top of your preparation,” said Coppell.

Kerala will have to put their best foot forward against Chennaiyin FC to register a win as they have never won against their Southern rivals. They have played five matches against Chennaiyin FC and have lost three while drawing the other two.

Chennaiyin FC will also need to be at their best to get their campaign back on track after a demoralising 1-4 defeat against Delhi Dynamos in the previous game. Chennaiyin FC coach Marco Materazzi has made an average of nearly four changes per match (30 changes in 8 matches so far) and this has meant there is no stability in the team, apart from the back four.

“Football is a beautiful game. You have another chance right after this game. After one game, you have to focus on the next,” said Materazzi.

Materazzi has been with Chennaiyin FC since inception in 2014 and is fully aware of the rivalry between the two teams. He is also aware of the boisterous support for Kerala Blasters at home, insisting that tomorrow “it’s going to be a beautiful game.”

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