The head coach expects his players to increase their level of performance.

Chennaiyin FC will play against ATK Mohun Bagan in their next Indian Super League (ISL) 2022-23 fixture. They will host the Mariners at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Chennai on Saturday, 21 January 2023. 

Heading into the fixture, the Marina Machans look weak in form. They have no wins in the last four matches and the upcoming opponents have one of the strongest squads in the league, making life even more difficult.

Thomas Brdaric, the CFC head coach, spoke to the media ahead of the contest and presented his take on various topics. He believes his players can deliver a win when these two teams clash on Saturday. Anirudh Thapa also joined the head coach for the press conference and talked about his role in the team.

Here are the excerpts from the conversation:

Assessment of the performances

Speaking in regards to his team’s performance in the season, the tactician believes the results have not been favourable despite progress in the team. “It’s football. It is unpredictable. Only when you score, do you have fewer worries because then you can also make some mistakes, or we don’t need help from the referee, but it’s a tough, tough job to break the opponents but this is what we are doing from the first day. We have a match plan and players are feeling well and trying to understand how circumstances work. I also see progress in the team since the first game but it’s not mirroring the results how it should be”, he said in the context.

Progress of Nasser El Khayati

Giving an update on the recovery of star midfielder Nasser El Khayati, Bradaric said, “We welcomed Nasser in Chennai two days ago. I feel he needs a little more time. The hamstring issue has been resolved in a good way. It will take one week for him to come back to the main (training) sessions. 

“(Anirudh) Thapa is a box-to-box player with abilities like Nasser that’s why Thapa is playing above his usual position,” he further added while talking about possible replacements for the midfielder.

Aiming for the win

Thomas Brdaric believes that his team will aim to get three points against the Mariners who have a young coach who is ambitious. He said, “We try to take all the games very seriously. Juan Ferrando is an ambitious young coach who wants to prove himself and the team. They will come here to try and beat us and we will try to beat them. We already showed in the first match that we are able to implement some very important things in football.”

Playoff race

The tactician believes that his team needs to unlock an extra gear in order to secure playoffs. The league is close and any team can beat anyone. “We have to take the extra step and get three points. We are close but we need a little more time and patience. I am here to fight for titles. This is my aim and where the players want to go,” he said in this regard.

Anirudh Thapa on the advanced role

Thomas Brdaric has assigned a new attacking role to Anirudh Thapa this season. Talking about the same, the player said, “It’s a new position for me and When I started playing, I played in number eight. I have played in different positions but not for a long time. It is the first time that for the whole season, I am playing as a No.10. I’m learning a lot about how to handle that position. What can I do? How can I help?”

“Obviously, I know that so far I have not been good. I can deliver more in terms of goals and assists. Hopefully, in the coming matches I will prove myself,” he added while being critical of his own performance this season.

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