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Indian Super League 2022-23 Season Review: Chennaiyin FC

Published at :March 21, 2023 at 1:14 AM
Modified at :December 13, 2023 at 1:01 PM
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(Courtesy : ISL Media)

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The two-time champions had a season to forget but showed good potential.

Chennaiyin FC finished the Indian Super League season in the eighth spot with 27 points (W-7, D-6, L-7). Marina Machans had a good start to the pre-season, reaching the quarterfinals of the Durand Cup. The management made good foreign signings - Nasser El Khayati, Julius Duker, and Petar Sliskovic who delivered to their maximum potential. 

Many would agree to the fact that the results ultimately did not go in Chennaiyin FC’s favour. They lost close to 15 points after taking the lead, which hurt them badly.

The defence was a major concern throughout the season, with the coach trying out various combinations and majorly stuck onto the foreign combo of Fallou Diagne and Vafa Hakhamaneshi. Although Chennaiyin FC finished eighth this season from the outset, the team has shown good potential.

Top Performers

Nasser El Khayati

Nasser has been the saviour for Chennaiyin FC in the limited matches he has played this season. The midfielder was a late entrant and had only two weeks of pre-season. This did not have much impact on his performance, scoring nine goals from 12 matches.

He played the initial few games but got injured midway and couldn't play the whole 90 minutes after the injury. His sublime touches and dribbling skills were a treat to watch. His assist in the final league match helped Chennaiyin FC to finish on a positive note.

Look at those numbers!

Aakash Sangwan  

Aakash was one of the best Indian signings for Chennaiyin FC this season. In the 19 appearances this season, Sangwan committed 63 tackles, made 41 blocks, 33 clearances, and 36 interceptions. Apart from his defensive skills, the 27-year-old provided five assists and 67 crosses.

His crossing ability was top-notch from the left flank providing quality assists. Unlike other defenders, Aakash isn't well built but has performed his duties well in the defence. 

Aakash Sangwan was one of the breakthrough stars of the season (Credit: ISL Media)

Vincy Baretto

Vincy Baretto continued his good form after shifting flanks from Kerala Blasters to Chennaiyin FC. In the 16 appearances this season, the 23-year-old has scored three goals and provided two assists. He played a vital role in the defence as well (32 tackles, seven interceptions, and two clearances). Many defenders found it difficult to catch up with Vincy Baretto's pace making him run through them from the right flank. 


Debjit Majumder

Debjit Majumder was the senior-most experienced goalkeeper in the Chenniayin FC setup. The southern club roped him in after putting up impressive performances for East Bengal FC and replaced Vishal Kaith as the number-one custodian last season.

In the nine appearances this season, Debjit has conceded 19 goals and has only one clean sheet. Samik Mitra was given the opportunity and the youngster grabbed it with both hands. Debjit at times lacked decision-making skills making advanced decisions.  

Top Performances

NorthEast United 3-7 Chennaiyin FC
It was raining goals in Guwahati!

Chennaiyin FC 4-3 NorthEast United FC
CFC ended the season on a positive note

Chennaiyin FC 3-1 Jamshedpur FC
CFC got their first home win against JFC

Manager’s Report Card

Chennaiyin FC changed their head coach for the third consecutive time and there were high expectations from Thomas Brdaric this season after the failure in the last two seasons. The German head coach started the pre-season early in July and reached the quarterfinals of the Durand Cup. He had a positive start in the ISL, winning the first encounter against favourites ATK Mohun Bagan. However, the team lacked consistency losing crucial matches.

Chennaiyin needed to win as many games as possible in the second phase, but the club could muster three wins out of the last nine matches with close to five games ending in a draw.

Brdaric did not have the luxury of featuring all six foreigners in the matchday squad. The 48-year-old provided game time to young Indian players and most of them made use of the opportunity. Although the results did not go in the coach’s favour but the performance of the team overall was satisfactory and had the potential to perform well.

With many managers shuffling around, could Brdaric be a candidate of silly season? (Credit: ISL Media)

Lessons to be learned  

Injuries have played a major role in this season for Chennaiyin FC. El Khayati was brought in as a last-minute replacement for Rafael Crivellaro. The club could have been proactive with Rafa's injury status and should have taken the call early on his replacement. Unlike the other players, Nasser got only two weeks of pre-season which wasn't enough, resulting in an injury. He played only 12 matches (mostly as a substitute). Foreign players need to be given a good pre-season going ahead.

The centre-back position has been an area of concern throughout the league. Brdaric persisted with the foreign combination of Fallou Diagne and Vafa Hakhamaneshi but the duo couldn't deliver much.

The coach then tried out a few Indian players like Gurmukh Singh, who put in decent performances and showed potential but wasn’t enough (as per ISL standards). The management needs to find a good Indian centre-back defender ahead of the next season.

Lastly, Chennaiyin FC needs a good creative midfielder who can create chances through the middle. The Marina Machans have heavily relied on crosses and aerial balls. The lack of variety made it easy for other clubs in judging the movement of players. Rafael Crivellaro was a master in the role and Chennaiyin FC now needs to find his successor.