Covid hits Chennaiyin FC camp but game on against Bengaluru FC

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Covid hits Chennaiyin FC camp but game on against Bengaluru FC
© Provided by The Times of India

CHENNAI: Chennaiyin FC (CFC) are no longer insulated from Covid-19 with the club’s goalkeeper Vishal Kaith had contracting the virus a few days ago. Coach Bozidar Bandovic confirmed the development on Tuesday, the eve of CFC’s match against Bengaluru FC. “Kaith is the only player who has contracted the virus. His reports came on January 22, the day of our last match against NEUFC. Since then, we have been in isolation,” Bandovic told a media conference.

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The good news for CFC though is that no other player or support staff has tested positive so far and the team was finally able to conduct a full-fledged training session after being cooped up at their hotel rooms for the last three days. However, the players will be tested again on Wednesday and a call on their participation in the match will be taken if anyone returns positive.

On the pitch, CFC and Bandovic were faced with familiar problems of profligacy in their last match against NEUFC. CFC might have won the game 2-1 but the failure of their strikers Nerijus Valskis, Rahim Ali and Lukasz Gikiewicz to score goals has been a constant headache for the coach. “It’s difficult to identify what the problem is. With the games coming thick and fast, we are not getting enough recovery time. So it might have to do with the mentality of the players. After failing to score consistently, the players’ confidence might have taken a hit. It could also be a case of the players’ inability to handle pressure in front of goal. But we need to work together as a team to solve the issue,” Bandovic said.

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Despite the woes, CFC will start favourites against Bengaluru, a team which has been grappling with multiple Covid cases in the squad and injuries. Coach Marco Pezzaiuoli said his immediate concern is to get a team out for Wednesday’s match. “It’s not the time to see how we will be at the end of the season but to see how we will take on Chennaiyin. The only thing that can stop us from getting into the top-4 would be the Covid-19 disruptions. It is not easy to come out and play after being in the room for 12 days,” Pezzaiuoli said.

BFC will be without the injured Ashique Kuruniyan while Cleiton Silva is doubtful too after taking a knock on the knee.

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On the other hand, CFC, who are currently fifth in the rankings with 18 points from 12 games, will be bolstered by Vladimir Koman and Ariel Borysiuk’s form. Returning from injuries, both played a part in CFC’s win in their last match by scoring a goal each.

But Bandovic is not taking Bengaluru lightly, asking his players to guard against set-pieces. BFC are placed eighth on the table with 14 points from 12 games. “BFC have good quality players in their squad. They are very dangerous on the offensive and can hurt you from set pieces. So we need to defend set pieces very well,” he said.

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