Chennai (Tamil Nadu) [India], January 21 (ANI): Chennaiyin FC head coach Thomas Brdaric is confident that his team can win against ATK Mohun Bagan in this reverse fixture as well when they host the Mariners in the Indian Super League (ISL) at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, in Chennai, on Saturday.
The Marina Machans are back at Marina Arena after playing three away fixtures. During this period, CFC grabbed just two points from two games although they faced top teams like Mumbai City FC and Hyderabad FC. The Chennaiyin FC head coach reiterated that the team is progressing but said it was not reflecting in their results.
"It is football. It is unpredictable. Only when you score, you have fewer worries because then we can also make some mistakes, or we do not need help from the referee, but it is a tough, tough job to break the opponents but this is what we are doing from the first day. We have a match plan and players are feeling well and trying to understand how circumstances work. I also see progress in the team since the first game but it is not mirroring the results how it should be. We are close to (the results) we wanted but it would not be simple," Brdaric said in the pre-match press conference as quoted by an ISL press release.
Chennaiyin FC's opponents ATK Mohun Bagan is currently in the fourth position with 23 points. In the reverse fixture, Chennaiyin FC beat ATKMB with a 2-1 scoreline in Kolkata.
Kwame Karikari opened the account for the away team. Brdaric confirmed that Rahim Ali who scored the winner in that game will miss this reverse fixture. Since then two teams have undergone plenty changes. The German coach expects a tough fixture on Saturday.
"We try to take all the games very seriously as we are professionals. Juan Ferrando is an ambitious coach and young coach and he wants to prove himself and the team. They will come here and they will try to beat us and we will also try to beat them. We already showed in the first match that we are able to implement some very important things in football, not letting them enfold their abilities because they want to play football. We analyse their game and have some qualities but we know that we can win against them," he commented.
Chennaiyin FC fan favourite Abdenasser El Khayati missed the last three matches due to a hamstring injury. The midfielder has 11 goal contributions to his name in just seven matches and the Marina Machans surely missed his presence on the field. Bradric informed that the midfielder has returned to training, but he would take some time to be fully involved with the team and expects players like Anirudh Thapa to step up.
"We welcomed Nasser El Khayati two days ago in Chennai. I feel he needs a little time. He (recovered) from the hamstring injury in a good way. But I guess one week, he will be needed to come back to the main sessions. And then we will see how it feels and how it works in restructuring and Anirudh Thapa is one player who can replace him, he is a box-to-box player and has abilities like El Khayati and that is why Thapa is playing above his usual position so you can expect more from Thapa in upcoming matches," he said.
Anirudh Thapa is assigned the new role of number 10 by his coach this season, which is new for the 25-year-old player. Though Thapa has played nine matches this season so far, he is yet to get a goal or assist to his name. The Dehradun-born player admitted that he has not been at his best, but said fans could expect more from him in the coming games.
"It is a new position for me and When I started playing, I played in number eight and I have played in different positions but not for a long time. It is the first time that I am playing as a number 10 for one complete season. I am learning a lot on how to handle that position. What can I do? How can I help? I know that so far I have not been good for the team, I can deliver more in terms of goals and assists and I need to work hard. Obviously, coaches and my teammates are helping me, but I think I need to do more. I need to deliver more. Hopefully, in the coming matches, I will prove myself," Thapa said in the pre-match press conference.
Chennaiyin FC is currently at the eighth position in the table with 16 points, three points behind Bengaluru FC who have played two games more. The Marina Machans will play four out of seven games at home. Thapa acknowledged the importance of winning at home, which might propel them to the playoffs.
"It is important to be in the top six, with the four home matches in hand, I think that will be crucial because if we can grab all of the points at home, that will be a plus point for us because playing away against FC Goa and Bengaluru FC will be difficult because they are also in the race and they would not let it go, so we need that support from the home ground as we are in the edge of the qualification for top six," he concluded. (ANI)