Chennaiyin FC are currently placed seventh in the table with 18 points from 13 games; a win will catapult them back to the top-four. Bozidar Bandovic’s side lost 3-0 to Bengaluru FC in their last game in the Southern Derby. CFC will see the upcoming game as an opportunity to get back to the top four race, which is heating up and will only be decided at the end of the season.
Meanwhile, their opponents SC East Bengal are placed bottom of the table with just 9 points from 14 outings; the Mario Rivera-coached side has all but lost their chance to stake a claim for the semifinals and will have nothing to lose when they face the Marina Machans. The Torchbearers will still look to improve their tally of wins this season and will try to get their second win of the campaign against Chennaiyin FC. In their last game, they had an embarrassing 4-0 loss against leaders Hyderabad FC.
Chennaiyin FC head coach Bozidar Bandovic and midfielder Vladimir Koman addressed the media ahead of their game against SC East Bengal on Wednesday, 2nd February at the Tilak Maidan Stadium in Vasco, Goa from 7:30 PM IST.
Here are the excerpts of coach Bozidar Bandovic;
Lallianzuala Chhangte has left the club midway through the season on loan to Mumbai City FC. Bandovic was asked if he was unhappy with his departure and also if he would miss his absence from the team.
“His contract should have been extended a long time ago. The club shouldn’t have waited for the last couple of months to hand him an extension. He is a good player, and I said to him many times that he needs to stay at Chennaiyin FC as the club needs to be built around him. So he told me that he was not happy with what the club offered him, and he wanted to leave at the end of the year after his contract expired. He wanted to go, and also Mumbai City wanted to sign him. We had talked many times about it and had meetings regarding it.
“In the end, it was completely his decision, and he thought it was better for his future, so he went there to play in the AFC Champions League. My decision was obvious as I wanted him to stay at the club, but I ultimately could not stop him because it was his decision. I even asked him to take a couple of days and talk with his family about it since it was a tough decision. But his decision didn’t change, so he left, and I wish him all the best for his future. But as I always said that we don’t want to depend on just one player; we will try to play without him. It will be difficult, but there are still many games to play.“
Bozidar spoke about replacing Chhangte and signing some players in his place.
“We tried to replace him, but some players were expensive while the others were under contract. We have to play with who we have for the rest of the season.”
Chennaiyin FC has played 13 matches and got 18 points. Bozidar was asked how much confidence he has in the team to make it to the playoffs.
“We are confident, and we believe in our team, but the next seven games will be tough. The next game is crucial. We have worked and analysed our opponents and prepared for the game. As I said before, for this team to compete and finish in the top four will be a big success. We need to have new players and make the team stronger to become the champions. At this moment, we are not ready for it.”
Bandovic spoke about the injury concerns in the team.
“No, Germanpreet got one kick in the ankle, and probably he will be okay. Of course, I want to make one thing clear, which is about the last game that Thapa (Anirudh Thapa) and Ariel (Ariel Borysuik) didn’t play because I didn’t want to take the risk because, before the matchdays, we didn’t do therapies and recoveries as we weren’t allowed to do that.
“Playing them in the game was a big danger of losing them for one month, and I could not take that risk with them at this moment. Also, Koman (Vladimir Koman) has some issues that after I saw the game, I decided to protect him because we needed him. He was the same staying in the field for 90 minutes. It was a risk and would have been a danger, so I protected him because we need them for the next game.”
Bozidar was asked about Vishal Kaith and if he had recovered from Covid, and if everyone in the squad had tested negative.
“No update on that. We still have some issues with Vishal, rest are all okay. In the last few days, we trained normally but we are not allowed to go out of our rooms other than for the training, and of course, it’s been almost five months, and mentally it’s tough, and we will give our best till the end for the team and the fans. Every game is important, and we will give our everything so that the team can get as many points as possible from the remaining matches.”
When asked about possible tweak in the system, this is what he said.
“I will stick with the same formation (3-5-2). There is no problem with the system; there are games where we dominated, but we could not do as much as we wanted. If we want to dominate every game then we need to have a very strong squad. I believe it’s hard for us to play 4 at the back since it’s very risky. So the system is not a problem because we play good games, create chances and dominate the games with the same formation. The midfield is at its strongest when we play Koman, Ariel, and Thapa.“
Bozidar spoke about how he expects the players to respond after the thumping defeat against Bengaluru FC and how he thinks they would deliver against SC East Bengal tomorrow.
“I think after we lost some games, the players showed very good character and they know that this game is very important for us. We need to win that game but I don’t like to see it for this game only. We really need to be there inside the game and win every second ball. Against Bengaluru FC the game didn’t start very well and because of some mistakes that have been happening many times now. Our team is not very strong but we need to come back in every game which we are trailing by 1-0. So we need to fully concentrate and win every game.
“Anything can happen in the game, even we can make a mistake or a bad call or something; we need to be there and fight till the end. But till this moment my players have given their all and this is very important for me and I don’t want to be unfair to them. We could have had some points more if we had controlled those moments better, but if we win the next game I think we will be in a very good position to make it to the playoffs.”
Apart from the goal he scored against Jamshedpur FC, Lukasz has struggled to make an impact in the final third. What’s your take on it and also is Valskis a better option than Lukasz at this moment even if his physical condition is not up to the mark.
“Valskis is better at this moment. He’s trained very well and I needed to give him a break. I believe that Lukasz deserved a chance because of the way he helped the team and of course, there are some changes that he had. I told him the same that he needed to score the goals as we don’t have that easy goal like some other teams score. Even if we have many chances or we had two-three chances for example against ATK Mohun Bagan and Mumbai City FC.
“So, of course, we never know but whoever is there there are good players. Valskis is feeling better now and probably he will start the game and we will be we need to score to win the games. It’s a team play so we need to be balanced and we need to defend good and attack. But the best thing is if we can dominate the game and have a ball in our control then we don’t have to defend, so we won’t get tired in the matches.”
Here are the excerpts of Vladimir Koman;
The former Hungary International is an experienced player who has faced many tough circumstances in his career in the past. He has been playing in the last seven matches so he was asked about what will be his message to the players on the team.
“We have been here for almost five months here, so I have no message from the players as they know what to do and we don’t have pressure for doing anything. We need to find our self-motivation day by day so yeah it’s tough for everybody but this is it and we have to play all the games like this and we try to do what we can do.
“So sometimes it’s happening; what we want and what we plan. But also sometimes it doesn’t happen, so it’s too many up and downs but this is what we have. So my message to the players is that we don’t have any pressure and we just need to play. We need to put our character on the field and do what we can do that’s it.”
Koman was asked about his experience playing alongside Nerijus Valskis.
“I think I played two games with him, so we can make some combinations. It’s not enough for us we need more time to play together but I think this is not a problem because if somebody has the quality in the field you can find each other so I think this is not a problem to find contacts with the players. So until now, I did with other players and now I’m doing that with Valskis. If he’s playing I’m not playing so we are rotating a little bit, so we are trying to find the best way for us.”
Vladimir was questioned if Chennaiyin FC’s midfield lacked composure since holding the ball in the midfield has been difficult for the team, and also creating chances from midfield has not been up to the mark. Koman shared his views regarding it.
“No, I think the chances we have all the games just we need to score the chances we need to finish them well so this is the main point we have the all the season. I think the chances we are creating in the games, we need to score them and finish the game in the first 20 minutes. That will be of course easier for us in the future if we can play the ball and if we can keep more, but we are doing we are not doing this. So the rule of football is if you don’t score they’re gonna score against you. It’s happening in all the games so after we are running after the results in every game so it’s tougher for us. So that’s it but I don’t think we have some problems in the midfield.”
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