The Chennaiyin FC head coach also shed light on how he plans to stop the Bengaluru FC forwards.

Chennaiyin FC are set to take on Bengaluru FC in their next Indian Super League (ISL 2022-23) fixture. With the season now being at a critical stage, a win against the mighty Blues, can prove to be extremely decisive for Thomas Brdaric’s men.

Chennaiyin are currently two points adrift of Bengaluru with a game in hand, and have a great opportunity to rise to the seventh place in the table, within touching distance of Odisha, who they face after Bengaluru.

Amidst all the pressure and excitement for a staggering Southern Derby, Chennaiyin FC’s head coach Thomas Brdaric spoke to the media, elucidating on Chennaiyin’s preparations and plans ahead of the game.

Here is the crux of the conversation.

Thoughts on Bengaluru FC and the difficulties they can pose

When asked about his opinions and thoughts on Bengaluru FC, who are also in contention for the final playoffs spot, Brdaric had this to say:

“Hard battle, away match. They have had good results in the last few weeks. They also have pretty good players, an experienced coach and are closer to playoffs, having played one match more. We are now in a situation where we want to face them and make a difference.”

“I showed the players our match plan and it’s up to us – how we implement it. For 90 minutes, we have to show very good concentration, good pressing, and not let them simply play in the last zone and shoot or cross.”

“They have some strengths and we have to deny them like we did in the last few games. We have to reduce mistakes. It could be a good result for us.”

Plans on stopping Bengaluru’s forwards

Bengaluru’s in-form attack poses a major problem for Chennaiyin’s defence, and Brdaric will face a big challenge in trying to stop the Blues from poaching their goal. In relation to this, the coach spoke on his idea of over-numbering in the back and not allowing a one versus one situation. He intends on not allowing players to push forward on their free will, and expects good movement from his men.

“Bengaluru’s attackers have their strengths. They are fast and can create one vs one situation, and that is why we have to be very attentive, so that we don’t lose the ball in tight narrow situations. That is why we have some really good patterns we’ve worked on and I’m confident.”

Mentality of his team

Speaking about the approach he intends his team on having, Thomas Brdaric said, “It’s very important for me to see that we have a sureness in our doings and we make good decision in the games. The most important thing is that the players should do well in the field, they should show confidence and ought to have a good mindset. They should know that we can beat any team in ISL.”

“My point of view is that we are going in the right direction, we are increasing our level, and have better understanding to approach our opponents in the way we want to play,” he added.

Nasser El Khayati and Rahim Ali’s availability

Thomas Brdaric provided insight on fan favourite Nasser El Khayati’s injury. The Dutch linchpin was side-lined at the onset of the new year, after a hamstring injury. Speaking about the player’s recovery, the coach said, “Today and tomorrow we have two sessions, after which we will decide if it’s smart to take him in the squad or not. It can be risky, because till now he hasn’t had one strong training session with the team. But I’m confident that he’ll soon be in the squad.”

As for Rahim Ali, Brdaric said that the player is also edging closer towards full fitness, and his availability in the squad will be determined after the final two training sessions.

Ajith Kumar’s incredible rise in form

Chennayin’s right full-back Ajith Kumar has been exceptional this season. After a poor start to the season, the defender rose in form, and is currently a key cog in Thomas Brdaric’s contingent.

“I appreciate his commitment. He is very humble guy and we’ve worked really hard in the past few weeks and months on his mindset and structure, and he has added more value to the team. He wants to improve all the time, and is a big potential player. We are proud to have him in the team. He knows which areas he has to work on, and I am here to help him,” the mentor concluded.

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