His romance with the city began more than six years ago. On Wednesday, the super bond between Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Chennai will add another chapter as Chennaiyin FC make their Indian Super League football debut against FC Goa - co-owned by Indian cricket's pin-up boy, Virat Kohli. (Also read: Owning an ISL team not a hasty decision, says Kohli)
A die-hard football fan, Dhoni is excited to watch Chennaiyin FC test their mettle for the first time as a team. The co-owner of the side urged fans to pledge their allegiance to the side.
"Just a few hours before the 1st game, send in your warm wishes," he tweeted on Wednesday morning. The contest against Kohli's team though is not expected to be a walk in the park. (Related: MS Dhoni no Match for Del Piero)
With former French star Robert Pires in their ranks alongside Czech Republic's Jan Seda and Miroslav Slepicka, and Brazilian Andre Santos, who joined the team last week, FC Goa would be looking to get their campaign off to a perfect start.
Frenchmen Gregoy Arnolin and Youness Bengelloun, Portuguese trio of of Bruno Pinheiro, Miguel Pereira and Edgar Marcelino are also expected to play a vital role in the fortunes of the Goan franchise.
The Chennaiyin FC squad also throws up an impressive list with the likes of Mikael Silvestre and Marco Materazzi, the Italian, who was a member of the all-conquering 2006 World Cup team being their marque player-cum-manager. The 41-year-old Materazzi is unlikely to start but may play if the situation so demands.
"For me, we have the best team. We had lesser time to train than others but we have a squad full of professionals so I am confident about our chances," Materazzi said. Goa's balmy weather will be another challenge for the overseas players, particularly from Europe.
With co-owners Dhoni and Kohli backing their respective teams to the hilt, the contest is being promised as an absolute 90-minute cracker.