ISL: Revamped Chennaiyin FC bank on experience to overcome transition
Chennaiyin FC have undergone a complete revamp and will start the season under the new manager, Bozidar Bandovic. Apart from him, the two-time ISL champions have also signed five new foreign recruits along with some promising Indian talent.
After securing just three wins from 20 outings in the previous campaign, Chennaiyin FC will look to turn things around in the upcoming season of the Indian Super League, which starts from Friday. The team has undergone a complete revamp and will start the season under the new manager, Bozidar Bandovic. Apart from him, the two-time ISL champions have also signed five new foreign recruits along with some promising Indian talent.
Despite the restructure, Syed Sabir Pasha, an ex-India international and current assistant coach of Chennaiyin is confident of a much-improved show, backing the experience of the squad. "It's mostly a new squad but everyone is aware of the competition. The new foreign players have played at a big level so adapting won't take much time. The transition period is there but with the amount of experience, the team will overcome this. Players like Narayan Das, Salam Ranjan Singh, they've played for the national team," explained Pasha during a virtual media meet arranged by the ISL club on Wednesday afternoon.
Also Read | Padma Shri recipient Bembem Devi lauds progress of women's football but laments the pay gap
He also states that the club this time is willing to look beyond the big names and players who meet Bandovic's expectations will start in the playing XI. "The coach is new too, so you have to fit the demands. It's important how a player understands the coach, the tactics. It's not about being a big player or a small one, whoever wants to deliver what the coach wants, that guy plays," Pasha added while speaking about the club's transition going into the new season.
However, with new faces come new challenges but the 49-year-old is content with the way things look at the moment and credits bio-bubble to help in team bonding up to a certain extent. Meanwhile, the club has also played practice matches in their build-up to the main tournament, allowing the management to try out maximum combinations to churn out the best fit. "We've played around five matches in which we tried many combinations and now we feel settled. We know what we require and the players are aware of what they need to deliver. So these practice matches helped us in a lot of ways in knowing the players who are new in the team," said Pasha.
Also Read | Anirudh Thapa to lead Chennaiyin FC in upcoming season of ISL
"Whoever has watched them play will not brand this as a new side, it's as if like they have been playing together for years," he added.
Chennai had netted 17 times in the previous edition and the 41-year-old is "positive" that the tally will be much higher this season.
Can Rahim Ali replicate his AFC U-23 campaign?
Rahim Ali, who had an impressive outing in national colours in the AFC U-23 Asian Cup last month, is keen on sticking to the basics and helping the outfit as long as he is there on the pitch.
Speaking on his role, the 21-year-old, who was also part of the meet, said: "If I'm playing as number 9 then my role is similar to the one which I played during the U23. I played simple football during U23 and I would look to do the same and want to help the team till the time I'm in the game."