The Romanian faces a tough task on Thursday against the indomitable Mariners .

Chennaiyin FC coach Csaba Laszlo faced questions from the media ahead of his side’s Indian Super League clash against ATK Mohun Bagan on Thursday. The Romanian has an uphill task against the second-placed Mariners, who would be looking to further themselves from the other teams and keep in the hunt for top spot in the standings.

The Marina Machans have scored the least number of goals this season and come up against a defensively resolute ATK Mohun Bagan side who have let in just five so far. Chennaiyin got a creditable 0-0 draw last time out against the Kolkata side but the challenge would prove to be even greater in the reverse fixture.

Chennaiyin’s gameplay

A particular point in focus was the Marina Machans ability to see out games, something that their upcoming opponents have managed to do pretty well this season. Although they have scored only 10 goals so far, Chennaiyin FC have conceded the joint-third least number of goals and apart from the game against Hyderabad, their defence has largely impressed against bigger teams.

When asked about his thoughts, Laszlo replied, “I know my team and I know our situation (in attack). We lost our captain (Rafael Crivellaro), who was our creative force and also our brain. He was one of the best offensive players in the league. We also had problems with the injury to Isma and we had to build again.

“We created a lot of chances, I guess, we create the most number of chances in the league. If we had scored at least 50% of them then we would’ve been even better in the table. It is not right to see how other teams are, we need to organize our team in our own way and it has to be organized right from the defence.

“We are not just a team who want to keep the ball away from our goal. We haven’t scored a lot of goals and we want to be more clinical. But again, the planning has to be in both attack and defence. If we win 1-0, everyone will say to me that I am a good coach. But, that could also mean that we weren’t really good, maybe we were lucky. I don’t like to talk about luck and I want my players to fight for more.”

Midfield 7 attacking woes

The midfield of Chennaiyin FC has also faced its share of struggles in the last few games. They haven’t been able to unlock the opposition’s backline and thereby the goals also seem to have dried up for the Marina Machans. Addressing the attacking concerns of his side, Laszlo answered, “It is a problem that has come back to hurt a lot. We lost an important piece of the puzzle in Rafa. We are honestly working on it, we know our problems and how to address it. It is a work in progress and doesn’t change in one game. Every day, as a coach, I have to see how we can do better and we have to do better.

“We played East Bengal for 60 minutes against 10 men. It isn’t easy as well to win against 10 men. I think East Bengal played well in defence and we didn’t have the space to create chances. We dominated the game against Odisha both times and won a game against them. Any team can beat any team. I know that ATK Mohun Bagan are a fantastic team – they are very competitive, but I have hope that tomorrow my team will stand up and do well against them.”

Bio-bubble & related problems

The bio-bubble has brought up questions surrounding mental health across multiple sporting disciplines and football has been no different. When asked of the influence of the restrictions on the players’ performance, Laszlo replied, “It is difficult because of the bio-bubble. There is also the expectation of the fans and the owners that we have to win games. But, I feel it is just a matter of confidence.”

Speaking especifically on his attacking options misfiring, Csaba Laszlo replied, “I have players who are really good like Isma, Jakub Sylvestr and Fatkhullo (Fatkhulloev), but when they don’t score people do ask questions. It is not something that happens within a few games. It happens when you spend more time with them in training and help them to get the feel of getting the ball in the back of the net. Of course, they are not machines and we have to work with them, not just physically but also psychologically.”

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