Chennaiyin, Mumbai City gear up for crucial battle in Group D

MANJERI: The Hero Super Cup 2023 awaits its fourth semi-finalist when Group D comes into action on Wednesday. The Payyanad Stadium in Manjeri will witness a crucial battle between Hero Indian Super League sides Mumbai City FC and Chennaiyin FC.

Chennaiyin are at the top of the table, albeit just a point ahead of the chasers, Mumbai City FC and North East United. For them, the math is simple. A win will guarantee a place in the semis. It gets more complicated for Mumbai, whose fate isn’t in their own hands. They need a win but also need a favour from Churchill who face NEUFC. The two games will kick off simultaneously.

Revealing the mood in the dressing room ahead of the decider, Head Coach Des Buckingham said, “The mood is good. We’ve had a win and a loss so far. In the game where we lost, the measures we held ourselves to were very high. But it was certainly not the result we wanted. We’ll put ourselves in the strongest position we can to progress.”

The Islanders faced the Marina Machans twice during the Hero ISL season and emerged victorious on both occasions. Speaking on whether those results will have a positive impact on their confidence levels, Buckingham said, “This competition is totally separate from the Hero ISL. It doesn’t change our approach. Against Chennaiyin, the games have been exciting, but the group is still very much open so it will be an exciting finish for everyone.”

Chennaiyin have had a better campaign in the Cup and currently sit at the top of the Group D table. Any slip though will allow their rivals to pip them to the post. Addressing the level of threat that Mumbai City will pose on Wednesday, Head Coach Thomas Brdaric said, “It’s going to be a big challenge, but we have the advantage with four points. We know that they are the League Shield winners and have good players.”

The Marina Machans have not won any silverware since their Hero ISL title winning campaign in 2017-18. Against Mumbai City, despite losing twice during the bygone season, the Tamil Nadu-based side will be looking to provide a statement of intent. “At the high level in football, we often see close matches. We’ve played against Mumbai City, so we know how to deal with them. We have some patterns of play that we can use against them and we need to be careful with their strengths,” the German tactician concluded.

The match between Mumbai City and Chennaiyin will be telecast on the Sony Sports Network and can be streamed live on the Fan Code app at 8:30 p.m. (IST).

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