The new coach spoke about his aspirations and objectives with the Marina Machans.

  • Biggest challenge to face emerging football culture in India with one of the most successful clubs.
  • Need not replace too many players in the team.
  • Hoping to get six weeks of time to prepare for the season.

New Chennaiyin FC head coach Csaba Laszlo spoke exclusively to Khel Now about his newest assignment leading the Marina Machans into the 2020-21 Indian Super League season. The 56-year-old has been managing for over a decade and a half across Europe and Africa and is now set to start a new chapter in India, with the two-time champions.

Laszlo laid out his vision, the challenges that are ahead, while also acknowledging the underlying health situation and its impact on the season and their preparations. Speaking of the reason for taking up the role, Csaba Laszlo said, “They were looking for a new head coach. I also got in contact with the Sporting Director and we talked a lot about the club, the team and the targets. It is not something you can decide quickly, you have to study. It’s very important and I am happy and privileged to talk to the club director and the owners. I had the time to study the Indian league and the club and I look forward to coming to India.”

Laszlo added, “It will be a new challenge for me. Many people asked me why move to Asia and India particularly, but I follow my heart and figured also in my mind that this will be a fantastic opportunity for me. I coached in many different countries, but the biggest challenge is to face a different and upcoming football culture in India, at one of the most successful clubs in the league’s history.”

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Coming to the team, the tactician gave a good account of his initial assessment of the club, saying, “The club is one of the most successful in the Indian Super League. This club has grown so much in just six years, in terms of fans and how they are supported. I think it is fantastic and it gives me a feeling that I have chosen something extraordinary.”

“Another good thing about them is that 75-80% of the team is still intact. I don’t have to see too much into new players. We can strengthen with a few players in areas, maybe four who we have to replace in their positions. We need to get players like the ones who left and we don’t have to replace too many,” added the former Dundee United manager.

Further, Csaba Laszlo pointed to the talented Indian contingent possessed by Chennaiyin FC. “The most important thing is that the Indian players form the majority of the team. They have shown they are not just talented, but they have also achieved something. They finished on a high level, so there is improvement. I think this is important to find more talented Indian players even though you have such players in the team. We have to lift the talent and quality in the team and keep pushing them,” he asserted.

When asked about the Indian players that impressed him the most in his assessment, Laszlo took the team perspective saying, “I think it’s not fair to say a few. We have a lot of talented Indian players, but it’s not a secret if I say that Jerry (Lalrinzuala) and (Anirudh) Thapa are really impressive players. There are many players who have the potential to move on and play better. Generally, these two players have huge potential, but I’m sure we have more like them in the team.”

Further, he also spoke about the current contract situation of star forward Jeje Lalpekhlua. The Mizo Sniper has been a fan-favourite throughout his time with the Marina Machans, having won two titles with the club. Speaking about the future of Jeje, Laszlo said, “Look, I don’t want to move into the direction of the club’s decision. I will always respect the club. It isn’t my responsibility to answer and I don’t want to do this. But, we are working towards presenting the players who fit in the team and will make a decision based on that.”

Quoting further comparisons, he said, “The local players must be the leaders in the dressing room, along with the community (fans). If you read the success tool with big teams, like Bayern Munich this season, you can see how many local players are there in the team. We know how important the local players and the community is for Chennaiyin FC, so the (local) players have to grow more and more into this role.”

WATCH: All goals by Chennaiyin FC in 2019-20 season

Chennaiyin FC had a poor start to the season last time out and that is something the new coach wants to rectify. “We have to improve our consistency. From the first game until the end, you have to be stable. It is very important. The team performed well though because they reached the final, but unfortunately, they lost.”

Laszlo went on to highlight a strong start to his managerial tenure in Chennaiyin FC as vital and views himself for the long-term. “I always have a short-term and long-term vision. My vision is always long-term, but for now I’m just looking to do well for this season. This season will be different, we have to look to take the positives from this and not much negativity. The biggest negativity is we would be playing without fans, but we have to face that and overcome it.”

“The league is growing and it would be great for Indian clubs to go far in the (AFC) Champions League and for the Indian team with passion and support for the sport, they have to play in the (FIFA) World Cup. I know it’s a dream, but if you don’t have dreams then what is the point in doing your job?” said Csaba Laszlo in an expansive statement of vision.

The pertinent question over the pandemic had to be addressed and Csaba Laszlo was optimistic in his thoughts about the situation getting resolved. He replied, “We all are humans and we must know the situation in Europe. I always think positively. There has been nothing like this for the last thousand years. But, I’m sure we will win this war against the pandemic.”

Speaking about how coronavirus has affected preparations for the new season, he said, “It is true that the pandemic has affected our preparations, but I have to be positive. The problem is also that if I cannot come quickly to India and not be together with the team, it affects the preparation, especially physically. I have spoken to the players and we will be communicating with them.”

“You can’t control the situation, I hope I can come to India soon, meet the staff members and the players. We need at least six weeks to prepare and I’m hoping that we will be getting time,” concluded Csaba Laszlo.

Laszlo will be taking charge of Chennaiyin FC for the new ISL season scheduled to be hosted in Goa from 23rd November this year.

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