Home blues for Chen­naiyin

Sportstar - - ISL DIARY -

There’s a lack of co­he­sion in the Chen­naiyin FC team’s play, the moves in the trans­fer mar­ket haven’t worked out and the un­easi­ness has spread to the fans.

Fans are in­te­gral to any sport. Their sup­port through thick and thin sets them apart from the ca­sual watch­ers. The moral sup­port aside, fans also con­trib­ute greatly to a team’s cof­fers — es­pe­cially in well­es­tab­lished sports.

In­dian foot­ball does not fall un­der that cat­e­gory, yet. Be it the I­league or the In­dian Su­per League (ISL), fans are val­ued — surely — but the fi­nan­cial gains from gate re­ceipts do not de­ter­mine the day­to­day run­ning of a team.

That said, ev­ery team in the ISL now has a widely recog­nised fan club. Some­times more. From sta­dium ban­ners to en­thu­si­as­tic match­day chants to ar­rang­ing long­haul away trips to sup­port their team, ev­ery­thing is worked out by them. And Chen­naiyin FC, the de­fend­ing cham­pion, has two of them — the Su­per­ma­chans and the B­stand Blues.

Go­ing into the fifth sea­son of ISL, a lot was ex­pected from the team and the fan clubs. But nine games into the sea­son, Chen­naiyin is yet to find its stride. There’s a lack of co­he­sion in the team’s play, the moves in the trans­fer mar­ket haven’t worked out and the un­easi­ness has spread to the fans.

The first home game of the sea­son, against FC Goa, came on the back of a 1­0 loss to last sea­son’s beaten fi­nal­ist Ben­galuru FC. Fans or­gan­ised marches into the sta­dium be­fore kick­off, you could hear the sound of drums re­ver­ber­at­ing all around and ban­ners were put out in sup­port of the team. A great at­mos­phere, even though the team even­tu­ally lost 3­1.

Com­pare that at­mos­phere to the one in the game against Mum­bai City FC and you’ll be sur­prised at the dif­fer­ence. Fans still came out, al­beit in much smaller num­bers, and stood by their team. But you could hear the frus­tra­tion in their chants and de­spair in their voices when the team lost yet an­other game at home — a third de­feat in as many matches.

The team has four points this sea­son and all of them came away from home. John Gre­gory, the head coach, spoke of his play­ers be­ing “ner­vous to play at home”. The next home game is on Novem­ber 29 and if


Hop­ing for a turn­around: Chen­naiyin FC play­ers dur­ing a train­ing ses­sion at the SRMC ground in Chen­nai. The team is yet to win a game at home this sea­son.

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