Bengaluru, November 23: As Chennaiyin FC begin their Indian Super League (ISL) 2021-22 campaign on Tuesday (November 23), new coach Bozidar Bandovic believes there is no need to rush things early and that he would prefer to take it one match at a time.
The two-time ISL champions take on Hyderabad FC at the Bambolim Athletic Stadium in Goa and hope for a fresh start so as to erase the bitter disappointment of last season where they finished a dismal eighth in the table and failed to make it to the play-offs.
"I want to talk about game by game. So, for us it's important to focus on the first game and then we can think about the next ones. We'll try to go game by game and try to be in the top four," Bandovic said while addressing the media during the team's virtual pre-match press conference on Monday (November 22).
After a poor season last time, the Chennayin FC's management rang in significant changes at the top with the experienced Montenegrin Bandovic roped in as coach and the captain's armband being passed over to India international Anirudh Thapa.
The Marina Machans spend big in the pre-season transfer market and signed five new foreign recruits -- including Polish striker Lukasz Gikiewicz, who is expected to sharpen the attack and bring in goals and Ukrainian born Hungarian Vladimir Koman -- in addition to some good local talent to revamp their squad completeley.
Having watched his new players in the pre-season friendly games, Bandivic said it was just a matter of time before they got into the groove and he hopes the match against Hyderabad FC at Bambolim will offer him a glimpse of the new-look team.
"There're good players in Hyderabad FC and they've experience of playing in the league. But we will try to use our strengths and take advantage of their weaknesses. We hope that we're going to play a good game.We need to defend well and also need to attack in order to score goals. We'll be preparing for tomorrow's game and we are ready.," he added.
The Marina Machans have a couple of injury worries ahead of the opening game with both midfielders -- Rafael Crivellaro and Germanpreet Singh -- literally ruled out.
"Rafael (Crivallero) is having a pain and is being monitored by the team's medical staff. We're trying to find what the problem is. He trained a couple of days ago, but had to walk off. Germanpreet Singh is out as well for tomorrow's game," Bandovic signed off.
Chennaiyin FC have also spent quality time in their pre-season training camp, playing five friendly fixtures, which allowed them necessary momentum ahead of their first ISL game.
And as the yellow brigade step on to the field for the first time under Bandovic, there is optimism all around.
The new season has ushered in a big change which sees an increase in the number of Indian players in the starting XI with each club now mandated to have a minimum of seven Indian players on the field at any point in time.
The match in Goa kicks off at 7.30pm IST and will be shown on Star Sports 2 SD/HD channels.