Chennai City FC will host All India Football Federation (AIFF)'s developmental side Indian Arrows in the first game of the I-League season at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here on Friday.
Indian Arrows and Chennai have faced each other twice thus far in a brief history last season and the young Arrows side have remained undefeated so far.
In fact, back in November last year, Arrows stunned Chennai 3-0 and secured a draw in the reverse leg in January this year.
Coached by Floyd Pinto, the Amarjeet Singh Kiyam-led side would certainly be looking for similar positive results against their hosts on Friday.
Chennai made their I-League debut in the tenth edition.
Their performance in the debut season was not much to write home about and in the last edition, they failed to secure a place among the top four. However, with a new coach in Singaporean Akbar Nawas at the helm this season and with some strong foreign signings, they will certainly look for a top table finish.
Captain Regin Michael, who will lead the side from the centre of midfield sounded positive in a pre-match chat, saying, " First of all as a local boy I am honoured to captain the side. Our coach is very good and I have never experienced such a talented coach in my career. We are learning new things from him every day and he treats all players equally. I hope we can play better football this season."
Commenting on Friday's opponents, Regin said, "I think they are a tough side. Most of them have played for the junior India national teams and their fitness levels are too good because they are youngsters. So we will try and find their weakness and try and attack." The captain marked out Kabir, Vijay and Pravitto as players to watch out for.
The Coach Akbar however, sounded a word of caution saying, "we played two pre-season games and as such it is not sufficient to enter a league with only two training games. But it is what it is on that notion. As for the team, we have much to improve and it takes time to play the way we want to play so let's see what happens on Friday."
Commenting on Indian football in general Akbar, who has coached in places like the Philippines besides Singapore, sounded quite positive saying, "Indian football is right up there and has improved tremendously."
On the other hand, Arrows made their first appearance in the I-League last season.
The team's talisman Jeakson Singh, who is the only Indian to score in a FIFA World Cup, did not want to dwell on the past when reminded of their record against Chennai. But he oozed confidence: "The past is past and it is gone. This is a new team for them and they are a strong team, but we are only going there to win and that is our only focus."
Coach Pinto, who has given a good account of himself after taking over from Portuguese Luis Norton de Matos, said, "It is obviously good to remember that we never lost to Chennai City last season but the flip side is that the team is different now and it will be interesting to see how they fare with new players and a new attack. We are also not shying away and will go every extra mile needed to better ourselves."