3/5/2019 3:48:41 PM (GMT+3)

Chennaiyin FC set for AFC Cup debut

Chennaiyin FC set for AFC Cup debut

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka: Two-time Indian Super League champions Chennaiyin FC take on Sri Lanka’s Colombo FC in the 2019 AFC Cup qualifying playoff round first leg at the Colombo Race Course Ground here on Wednesday.

The kick-off is at 3:30PM IST.

Chennaiyin will make their debut following their 2017-18 ISL title and are placed along with Colombo FC in the South Asian Zone of the competition. Chennaiyin are also the first ISL outfit to participate in the AFC Cup, with this qualifying tie against Colombo for a place in the group stage of the 2019 edition.

“The boys are in good spirits, having arrived in Sri Lanka ahead of what is a very big game for us against Colombo FC. We are honoured to be the first Indian Super League team to have qualified for the AFC Cup,” said Chennaiyin FC coach John Gregory.

The Chennai side concluded their 2018-19 ISL campaign with a 1-0 defeat to FC Goa last week, with the focus now shifting to their maiden AFC Cup campaign.

Nine players from the 25-man Chennaiyin FC AFC Cup squad have featured in the competition on previous occasions with other clubs.

Star striker Jeje Lalpekhlua, the most senior player in the CFC squad who has played in every season of the club's history, being one of them. The Mizo marksman has played against Colombo FC in the past, having turned out for Mohun Bagan in the 2017 AFC Cup preliminary round.

“This is a historic match in the club’s history. We’re optimistic about taking home a good result for the second leg. I remember facing Colombo FC with Mohun Bagan two years back and they are a very tough side,” said Jeje.

The team welcomed back Indian midfielder Dhanpal Ganesh into the squad for the qualifying playoff against Colombo, after he missed out on the 2018-19 ISL season with a knee injury.

Australian Chris Herd, who joined CFC in the January transfer window, will be the club's Asian player in the qualifier with the Brazilian trio of Mailson Alves, Eli Sabia and Raphael Augusto being the other three foreigners.

Four youth team players – defenders Hendry Antonay (U-18 & B team) and Reamsochung Aimol (B team), midfielder Zonunmawia (B team) and forward Bawlte Rohmingthanga (B team) have also been included in the squad.

The second leg of the qualifying playoff will be played at The Arena by TransStadia, Ahmedabad on March 13. (Pic credit: Chennayin FC)