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ISL 2021-22: Chennaiyin FC looking for a winning start

Chennaiyin FC

Bengaluru, November 17: Two-time Indian Super League (ISL) champions Chennaiyin FC were one of the teams, who were busy in the pre-season transfer market having made some big signings.

The team had finished a dismal eighth in the group stage of ISL last season and thereby could not enter the play-off stage.

No wonder some big changes were brought right at the top with well-travelled Montenegrin Bozidar Bandovic roped in as the new coach and India international Anirudh Thapa being handed over the captain's armband.

ISL 2021-22: Thalaivan Thapa sets top-four target for Chennaiyin FCISL 2021-22: Thalaivan Thapa sets top-four target for Chennaiyin FC

And as the Marina Machans begin their new campaign on November 23 against Hyderabad FC at the Bambolin Athletic Stadium in Goa, the yellow brigade have their priorities clear.

"Hopefully it'll be a good season for us. Last season we were unlucky. It wasn't that we played badly. We did well, tried to create chances, but couldn't convert them. This time, right from the start, our priority should be to create chances and win match by match," Chennaiyin FC assistant coach Sabir Pasha told a group of journalists in a virtual media conference.

ISL 2021-22 Chennaiyin FC Team Preview: Squad, Fixtures, Key Players, Strength, Weakness, PredictionsISL 2021-22 Chennaiyin FC Team Preview: Squad, Fixtures, Key Players, Strength, Weakness, Predictions

Post last season's performance, Chenniayin FC have revamped the squad completely with most of their foreign players being signed up new.

Pasha said being professionals, it will not take time much time for the new signings to gell up with the team.

"The squad is in a transition phase. Most of the new players, especially the overseas signings have lot of experience. And being professionals, it won't take much time for them to fit into our scheme of things."

ISL feature: Vladimir Koman targets title with Chennaiyin FCISL feature: Vladimir Koman targets title with Chennaiyin FC

"We've played a few practice matches and all of them are slowly getting into the groove. These boys have done well in practice matches. It's just a matter of fitting quickly into the assigned roles and it won't take much time. I'm sure they'll adapt quickly. Whoever understands the new system quickly fits easily into the scheme of things," Pasha added.

The new ISL season will see an increase in the number of Indian players in the playing XI with each club now mandated to have a minimum of seven Indian players on the field at any point in time (instead of the earlier six).

ISL 2021-22 Season Preview: New Rules, Favourites and Teams to Watch Out for

Rahim Ali, who is one of the youngsters in the squad, hopes the new rule will give more chance to young Indian players, though he pointed out that there was no substitute for hardwork.

"As player you've to work though. Just because you've an extra quota, can't take things for granted. It isn't easy to start in the first XI. You've to work very hard. There're no easy routes in football, especially Indian football.

Rahim, who was part of India's AFC Under-23 campaign, was quick to add that ISL was one of the best things to have happened to Indian football in recent times.

"The experience that you get my playing in ISL is enormous. Especially for the youngsters, the confidence that they gain by playing this tournament is awesome.

If you share the dressing room with a World Cup winner, it changes the mentality of a young player completely. It has helped the growth of Indian players and it has created chances for youngsters to improve," Rahim added.

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Story first published: Wednesday, November 17, 2021, 18:09 [IST]
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