Kerala Blasters FC knocked the wind out of Chennaiyin FC’s sails with an emphatic 3-0 win in Kochi to bring the visitors crashing back to reality after they topped the Hero Indian Super League table in the league stage. They had even beaten Kerala, home and away, but were in for a rude shock when they took to the pitch at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in front of a capacity crowd of over 60,000.
Chennaiyin recalled top scorer Elano Blumer into the squad after the top-scorer had permission to go back to Brazil to recuperate from an injury. Coach Marco Materazzi moved him just behind his two attackers – Jeje Lalpekhlua and Balwant Singh – aided by Eric Djemba-Djemba and Denson Devadas on the flanks. Materazzi knew Elano had fitness issues and therefore offered to field him in a playmaker’s role, rather than putting his deadly weapon right at the top.
Ironies never cease in football. After the smooth sailing to the top of the table and then consolidating the team further with the addition of Italian international Alessandro Nesta, as also the return of main man Elano Blumer, no one would have imagined that Chennaiyin FC would be in the position as it is.
After the big 0-3 loss to Kerala Blasters FC in the first leg of the double-legged semi-finals, Chennaiyin are on the verge of being eliminated from the inaugural Hero Indian Super League (ISL). What should be worrying the team management is not just the defeat but the margin.