Chennaiyin FC, who are placed 6th on the points table lock horns with 5th placed Mumbai City on Sunday, 6th February at the Fatorda Stadium. Both clubs are presently tied on points in the standings with 19 points (5 wins and 4 draws each) and are searching for a way to break into the top-four once again. Both the Marina Machans and the Islanders enter this game on dismal runs of form.
Chennaiyin FC have won just one of their last five matches, while Mumbai City haven’t picked up all three points in their last seven ISL encounters (4D 3L). Chennaiyin FC played out a 2-2 draw with SC East Bengal in their last game. Meanwhile, Mumbai City FC had a similar fate as they had a 1-1 draw with ATK Mohun Bagan. Ahead of the clash against the Islanders, head coach Bozidar Bandovic addressed the media during the pre-match press conference. Below are the excerpts for the same.
Bandovic was asked the message he had for his team against SC East Bengal at half-time.
“My message to my players was to keep playing in the same way they played in the first half. We played a very good first half and dominated the game. There were some small issues tactically and we told them to use it more. The second half was totally different. You can also say to the players to be careful and then concede the goal, putting fear in your squad. I don’t do that. I always go out and say to the players to score one or more goals, and this is the point. We should continue the same.”
Bozidar gave an update on the injuries of Mohammed Sajid Dhot and Vladimir Koman.
“Sajid will be out for 3-4 weeks. I expected it to happen honestly since he didn’t play any friendly games with us. It was not easy for him to play the matches directly since joining the team.”
“Koman is having an issue in his lower calf. I don’t know exactly the severity of his injury or the amount of time it will take for him to recover. Our medical staff is looking after him. He tried training yesterday but he wasn’t able to make it. So he will also be out from the squad for some time.”
Chennaiyin FC have managed to win only one game from their last 5 games. Bozidar spoke about what went wrong and how will his side turn things around after recent setbacks.
“We played well in the game against Jamshedpur FC and Hyderabad FC. The game against Bengaluru FC was difficult since we conceded an early goal from the penalty. But after that, we played well against NorthEast United FC. Talking about the last game I feel we should have won it. We shouldn’t have conceded the goals, especially the goal we conceded at the last moment. This is something we are looking to improve. We need to show the right character and perform well.
“I always tell my players that we need to repeat the things we did in the games that we won. We also need to be more consistent and focused during the entire game and also not make any mistakes or wrong decisions. Also, in the games when we had Ariel (Borysuik), Koman (Vladimir), and Thapa (Anirudh) we played a good game. We were stronger and we moved the ball quickly and very well. I know it’s not enough to win the games but there are some moments we are playing well. We need to understand the tactical positioning, player movements well and act accordingly in those situations.”
Mumbai City FC are winless in their last seven matches. Bozidar was asked if it’s the best chance for Chennaiyin FC to win the three points.
“It’s a good chance. But it’s also true that they are the champions. They have the best squad in the league. They have very good players technically and they keep hold of the ball and move it very fast. They are a dangerous team from combination plays and set-pieces. So they are one of the best teams in ISL but we can say there is a chance for us since they didn’t win their past games. So we need to be focused on the game, be disciplined and also defend well along with keeping hold of the ball. So we need to play well as simple as that. We will try to utilise the chance of winning tomorrow.”
Every midfield battle in a match is very important. Mumbai City FC likes to keep possession of the ball. So in the absence of Vladimir Koman, will it affect the team’s performance or what changes will coach Bozidar want to make in the next game?
“Yes, we will have to make some changes to our starting eleven despite not having many options. I feel we will be playing Germanpreet in his (Koman) place and also make some changes. Mumbai City FC have a very strong midfield, so we need to be very close to their midfielders, pressurize them and keep the midfield tight. Because if we are not close to their midfielders, and let them play then they will exploit those spaces which will dangerous for us. The last time we faced them we played well until the last quarter of the game when we conceded from a concentration lapse. We cannot defend all the time as the best defense is when we have the possession of the ball.”
Bozidar spoke about the improvement he has seen in the Indian players.
“In my opinion, it’s a positive thing for the team that Ninthoi (Meetei) has a very good future. He is playing well, but of course, he needs more experience and game time because sometimes he is running and sprinting when there is no need for it. Suhail (Pasha) also has a good future so that is again a good thing for the club. Edwin (Syndey Vanspaul) can also do better as well. He (Edwin) is a clever guy and a good player. But these two young boys (Ninthoi and Suhail) are showing good character and maturity level. They will be the future of the club.
Bozidar was asked if players like Deepak Devrani, Salam Ranjan Singh, and Davinder Singh are ready for the level of the Indian Super League.
“They need more time. Of course, I am trying to give chance to everybody. I am also looking for the right moment when I can play them and also Joby Justin too. My point is it’s not about the number of games a player plays for the team, but it’s about how many matches he has helped the team in performing well.
“I don’t want to speak about it they are ready or not. They are in our squad and we need to support them and see when we can give them their chance. I am always noticing everybody in the training sessions. I have been playing Sajid in the centre-back position because he has that quality and he stands out from the rest in his position. He proved that he is more prepared to play the games but it doesn’t mean that I don’t believe in the other players. Every player who will work hard regularly will deserve a chance and I will try to give them their chance.”
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