What a delight! Domestic football is back after the international break as the Hero Super Cup ‘proper’ begins with Chennaiyin vs Aizawl. Quite how this is going to play out, I don’t know as ISL sides and I-League teams haven’t historically played each other so for this match preview it’s going to be a bit of a mess, if I do say so myself.
You may be wondering why I am doing the match preview for this instead of Steve. You also may be wondering where Steve has been all week. Truth be told, he’s cut up after his dear Uche left Delhi for ATK, believe me, it’s no coincidence that the only article he’s doing this week is Delhi’s December, which is published not too long after this.
Not So Much A Super Cup For Gregory
Enough about us in the office, let’s talk about those on the pitch. Chennaiyin are without, in my opinion, their main tormentor in chief, Gregory Nelson as John Gregory has opted for somewhat of a lax squad when it comes to this tournament. He quipped in the press conference after they beat Bengaluru that they certainly wouldn’t be considering it a ‘Super Cup’.
That is more than evident as the ex-Derby County boss has only selected four foreign players when he is permitted to select anything up to six. Raphael Augusto, Jaime Gavilan, Jude Nworuh & Mailson Alves are the four that Gregory is entrusting with making the magic happen on the pitch, how Mailson will operate without Sereno next to him will be intriguing to watch.
Aizawl’s foreign contingent is made up of Andrei Ionescu, Masih Saighani, Leonce Dodoz & Alfred Jaryan; I’m not going to try and bullshit you about them, I have no idea who they are. Luckily, that’s where the power of the internet comes into play. Actually, come to think of it, I mentioned Ionescu in Bengaluru’s AFC group preview, he’s won a few trophies in Eastern Europe if my memory serves correctly.
Regarding the others, Leonce Dodoz and Alfred Jaryan are both forwards and Saighani is a defender/midfielder dependant on who you believe. I’m not sure why Jaryan has been selected ahead of the Japanese striker Yugo Kobayashi because Jaryan hasn’t scored in from sixteen starts this season whereas Kobayashi has scored four from nine starts. Maybe he’s injured. Who knows?
How’d The League Go?
Chennaiyin’s performance in the ISL is very well documented on this site and you would have had to have been living in a cave for the last couple of months not to know they beat Bengaluru in the ISL final. Of course, you can ask questions about whether there should be playoffs in the first place, but that’s how it works. No need for sour grapes. Cough, Gurpreet, cough.
Aizawl is not a team we know so much about over here on the ISL site. So, I’ll do my utmost to try and fill you in on how they got in this season. Before we do that, let’s recap the season prior to the one that’s just finished. Aizawl very much pulled off a ‘Leicester’ and ended up winning the I-League against all the odds and they now find themselves competing in the AFC Cup, in the same group as Bengaluru.
This time around in the I-League, things haven’t been so rosy for Aizawl. Finishing slap bang in the middle of the table in fifth, points wise they actually finished closer to the bottom of the table than they did the top, so the Super Cup will be a chance to show Indian football that what they achieved wasn’t a fluke.
Going into the game, they’ve only won twice in the last thirteen games in all competitions and both of those victories came at home so something will have to give from an Aizawl perspective, should they want to progress to the quarter-finals.
If I Was A Betting Man…
Not much else to say, they’ve never played each other before so it’s not like we can go through any previous meetings, so all that’s left for me to say is this…
If I was a betting man and luckily I am, I’d be backing absolutely nothing in this because I haven’t the foggiest what’s going to happen. If Aizawl are priced up at 4/1 or bigger, which wouldn’t surprise me, it may well be worth looking at backing Aizawl or the draw.
Until the next time.