It will be an intense battle between the reigning champion and a former two-time champion. However, Mohun Bagan Super Giant and Chennaiyin FC have had contrasting starts to the new Indian Super League (ISL 2023-24) season.
Bagan, undefeated this season, has two wins on the trot, while home team Chennaiyin is yet to win its first match, having lost to Odisha FC and NorthEast United FC.
But for Owen Coyle’s Chennaiyin, it will be its first home match (for Bagan, it’s first away contest), and the Marina Machans will be eager to win with the support of the home crowd when it takes on Bagan here on Saturday.
Bagan’s head coach Juan Ferrando, too, knows that the home team will be hungry for a win and will advise his team against complacency.
“We expect Chennaiyin to be very aggressive. We need to be in control. Chennaiyin is a pretty ambitious club. Having lost the first two matches, they will come back very hard,” said Ferrando.
Coyle said he is not overawed by the opponent. “We got to be clinical. If not, we will bring more pressure on our backline.”
He further said his job is to build a team for the long run. “What we want to do in one year is to build something. While Mohun Bagan Super Giant is able to spend huge amounts of money on a whim, full of international players, we would like to invest in young players,” he said.
Anirudh Thapa, who played seven seasons for Chennaiyin, will now play for Bagan. The 25-year-old midfielder said he will feel different. “Yes, it will be different for me. As a professional, I am now a Mohun Bagan player. I know what the team wants and needs,” he said.