The Englishman made the astonishing claim after his team’s defeat to Chennai City…
Chennai City came from behind to upset Kingfisher East Bengal 2-1 at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on Sunday night, and Soundararjan seems delighted to have pulled off the upset he had been talking about since being named the Chennai coach.
Chennai’s philosophy prioritises the development of young local players, and their trust paid off as Tamil Nadu player Nandhakumar sparked the comeback, scoring the leveller before youngster Prasanth Karuthadathkuni completed the comeback to secure a memorable win against I-League giants East Bengal.
Soundararajan heaped praise on his local contingent before slamming Marcos Vinicius for committing errors rather frequently.
“We’re continuously giving chances to Nandhakumar as he’s constantly improving,” said Soundararajan. “Apart from that, we gave Prasanth [Karuthadathkuni] a chance against Mumbai. He has the pace; in the 15 minutes he was on the pitch, he was tracking back, and his goal, in the end, was excellent.”
Chennai do not play an I-League game at least until April 8, and when questioned about their training regime during the international break, he said, “I took charge of the team in the middle of the season. In the ten days we have, we’ll focus on the physical fitness. That’s why we’re starting practice on March 23. It’ll be useful for the team. We have 10 intense practice sessions during the international break. We’ll look to improve our standards during the break; we’ll look to emerge a more attacking side at the end of the break.”
Soundararajan is eyeing sixth place as he guns for a strong finish in the club’s first top-flight season.
East Bengal, meanwhile, squandered the chance to go level on points with table toppers Aizawl. Questioned about their title credentials, their coach Trevor Morgan admitted that the result had dealt a major blow to their title ambitions.
“Without a doubt, it’s a massive setback,” said the Englishman. “We went into halftime with a one-goal advantage and in firm control; what happened in the second half was inexplicable. We ended up where we deserved to end up.
“There’s still 12 points to go. We’ve got four must-win games ahead. We’ve been in really really good positions, but there’s nothing you can do about certain things. This is the worst game we’ve ever played in a very long time. I’m shell-shocked, really.”
Chances were created on either side of the pitch throughout the game, and it looked as though any team could snatch a winner. Reflecting on the result, he said: “There are different ways to win a game. Some games are pretty while some are ugly. We don’t really win too many games ugly. The last two games certainly come under that category. We’ve not been strong enough to stand up to the physical challenges. Chennai were physically stronger than we are. Their attacking players were very strong. Their two centre-backs were stronger than our attackers.”
The former Bournemouth striker sounded critical of his players’ mentality when he stated that he had yet to come across a player with outstanding mental strength this season.
“When you’re a goal down, you need players who can roll their sleeves up and dig deep. You need someone with a strong character and mentality to drive the team forward. However, during my time here, I haven’t seen many,” concluded the East Bengal gaffer.