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Imphal, February 15, 2020
With either side desperate for a return to winning ways, Tiddim Road Athletic Union (TRAU) will be welcoming Chennai City to the Khuman Lumpak Stadium here on Sunday.
Runaway league leaders Mohun Bagan might have opened an 11-point gap between themselves and currently second-placed Punjab but the remainder of the table still remains waterlogged, with only six points separating the Ludhiana-based outfit and tenth-placed Neroca.
TRAU and Chennai are currently separated by just a point, placed fifth (15 points) and seventh (14 points), respectively.
The hosts have turned plenty of eyes in their debut season in the top-flight, but have seen their momentum fizzle out following the dismissal of now-former coach Dimitris Dimitriou.
TRAU suffered a 0-5 hammering at the hands of their city-rivals Neroca before losing again in their subsequent away trip to Aizawl. A third defeat in a row could possibly go on to derail their campaign and render their good work so far, null.
However, Princewill Emeka, Captain, TRAU FC was upbeat ahead of the game and said, “We are, of course, disappointed to have lost two games in a row but you look at our team and you will see players who are ready for any challenge that comes their way.
“The defeat won’t be on the back of our heads when we’ll go to fight against Chennai City. We have shown what we are capable of as a team. It won’t be easy against the defending champions, but we are ready,” he concluded.
Chennai began their Hero I-League title defence against TRAU on the opening weekend, winning 1-0 in Coimbatore. They had a nervy spell where they found themselves in a relegation scrap but climbed back into the top four with two back to back wins over Indian Arrows and Churchill Brothers. Their hopes of getting back in the title race, however, were deflated severely by a 0-1 defeat at the hands of rivals Gokulam Kerala in the Southern Derby.
The Southerners have been left disappointed to not be in the higher dominions of the table but Akbar Nawas, Head Coach, Chennai City FC isn’t prepared to give up on the chase just yet.
“Realistically, we are still not giving up on the title chase until it’s mathematically impossible. We did well in the last game despite not getting the win but against TRAU, I am confident. They like to play too. It will be interesting,” he said.