The southerners scored four goals past the AIFF developmental side in the league opener.
The I-League kicked-off in style at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Chennai as the home-side, Chennai City romped to a 4-1 win against the Indian Arrows. The hosts fell behind to a second-minute goal from Arrows’ midfielder Amarjit Singh Kiyam, but they responded bravely. Big-money signing Pedro Manzini came through with a hat-trick on his I-League debut with a goal in the first half and two in the second, while Romario Jesuraj put the cherry on the top with a fourth goal in the 76th minute. Overall, it was an entertaining game despite the Arrows losing emphatically.
Here are five things that we learnt from the game:
5. Chennai City look like a completely new side this season
The Southerners have put together a very impressive side in the summer and they have a good chance to finish in the top half of the I-League table and maybe even challenge for the title. With quality foreigners as well as excellent Indian players like defender Tarif Akhand and forward Jesuraj in their ranks, they might just be the Dark Horses of the league this season.
4. Chennai City are reaping what Jordi Villa sowed
Former assistant manager Jordi Villa has had a huge hand to play in building the Chennai squad and it seems they are going to be quite a threat to the big clubs this season. The Spaniard, who along with his former boss and current Chennai head coach Akbar Nawas had visited Spain to choose players, was responsible for the signings of Pedro Manzi, Eslava Suarez and Sandro Rodriguez. They were all brilliant today and while Villa left for MLS in the summer, it is obvious that he has done some spectacular work for the side.
3. Floyd Pinto has to adapt his team to the physicality and tactical nuances of the league
The Indian Arrows project has been widely hailed as a well-thought idea from the AIFF and this season, they are being supported by the Odisha government. However, their head cooach Floyd Pinto has to teach his side the skills required to manage the game at the top level and develop physical strength in them. The likes of Jeakson Singh, Amarjit Singh Kiyam and Anwar Ali, all exciting prospects, simply looked out of touch against far superior opposition.
2. The Arrows need to sort out their defence
Another major cause of concern for the Arrows side will be the manner in which they conceded the goals. Anwar Ali and Narender, the centre-back partnership was caught out of position numerous times. Acres of space was handed to the likes of Manzi and Sandro, who made it count. The midfield looked equally disjointed, with Jeakson, Stalin and Rahim Ali all looking out of ideas and visibly overwhelmed in possession. The sense of occasion got to the young boys today, but they need to find a way around this soon.
1. Pedro Manzi will be a force to reckon with this season
The Spanish striker made a terrific impression on his debut with Chennai City. With three goals which included a penalty, he could have had several more as he fluffed his lines a couple of times and had a dinked chip which came off the crossbar.
Despite this, Manzi was the toast of the match as he ripped apart a shaky Arrows defence with his skill, touch and intelligent runs. With Miku and Feran Corominas running off with all the plaudits as the best foreign strikers in Indian football over the past few seasons, it seems someone has finally emerged to challenge their hegemony.