The Chenna boss was pleased after his team’s first top flight win…

Chennai suffered back-to-back defeats to Bengaluru, DSK Shivajians and Mohun Bagan in the buildup; however, their first I-League victory looked worth the wait considering how delighted the staffers and players were after the final whistle. Reflecting on Chennai’s first I-League win, Charles Raja said: “Winning at home in this situation and moving up the table is crucial for the team, players and me.”

Charles Raja gave away his training regime when he was asked about the team’s performance. He also bigged up the influence of club owner Rohit Ramesh. “We were holding the ball for the most of the game. We are now playing better, after three or four matches. You could see [that from our performance]. The boys were holding the ball. Earlier, we used to give away the ball often. I made sure [they retained possession] in training, as well as today. Rohit [Ramesh] said that the time period between 55 and 70 minutes was crucial for the team, and definitely, we were holding that moment,” disclosed the Tamil Nadu-born coach.

All three Chennai goals have come on the back of defensive errors, with Tank capitalizing on Eduardo Ferreira’s concentration lapse to score past Debjit Majumder on matchday four. Tank’s opener on Saturday came off bad man marking from Aizawl defenders whilst Charles converted only from the spot. Quizzed about the nature of the goals, he said, “The statistics show that winning the ball in the final third gets you goals. We were doing specifically that with Charles and Marcos against the Aizawl defenders. We have been working on that in the training. Whatever we did today was rehearsed in the training sessions.”

Chennai managed a win without arguably their two most experienced Indians in Dharmaraj Ravanan and Karanjit Singh. Asked about the paradox, he chose to answer diplomatically. “We got three points in the end. The players I played today did well. Abhra [Mondal] did well; [Haroon] Amiri did well. Our bench strength is very good. We should have got the third goal, too.”

The Mizoram players struggled to perform in Chennai thanks to the Tamil Nadu capital’s extreme climatic conditions. Charles Raja admitted that his personnel might face similar problems when they travel to Shillong for their sixth I-League game against Shillong Lajong on Tuesday night.

“[The negative aspect of playing in an unfamiliar territory] will surely be there. As I said, our bench strength is very good. It will help us,” concluded the Chennai coach.