Two-time Indian Super League (ISL) champion Chennaiyin FC will face its first home test of the season when it hosts Mumbai City FC at the Nehru Stadium here on Sunday.
The home side’s campaign began in bitter fashion as it slipped to a 3-0 loss to FC Goa but head coach John Gregory, in his third season with the club, is hopeful of a winning start at home.
“The ISL comes quick and you have to pick up results quickly.
“I made three changes against FC Goa and the boys who came on did very well. I might make one or two changes against Mumbai.
“I can bring in two more foreigners who did not start the FC Goa game.
“Tomorrow [Sunday] is a good opportunity to pick up a win,” he said at the pre-match conference here on Saturday.
Chennaiyin’s defence endured trouble as it struggled to contain FC Goa’s attack led by Ferran Corominas, while the attackers had a couple of decent chances.
Romanian striker Dragos Firtulescu had a great chance to open the scoring when he was brought down in the box in what appeared to be a clear penalty, but much to Gregory’s angst, the referee saw no foul.
“It was unbelievable that penalty call (Dragos). It was a clear-cut penalty. It was unbelievable that the referee and the linesman did not make the decision.
“If that referee made that decision in Europe, he would be demoted to the fifth tier and would never referee a game again at the top level. In India, however, he will probably referee again this weekend. The standard of refereeing needs to improve,” the Englishman rued.
Mumbai City coach Jorge Costa, whose team comes on the back of a hard-fought win over Kerala Blasters, said he was wary of the home team.
“We played Chennaiyin in the pre-season and I saw their first game. That’s why I say we have a very difficult game tomorrow (Sunday). I still haven’t decided what to do (strategy), but we will fight for three points,” he said.
Chennaiyin will miss Jeje Lapekhlua due to an injury that’s likely to keep him out for long, and Germanpreet Singh is on personal leave.
Mumbai City will be without centre-back Mato Grgic, while midfielder Paulo Machado’s participation remains doubtful.