The Marina Machans had an underwhelming campaign as they finished at a lowly eighth place.

Former two-time champions of the Indian Super League, Chennaiyin FC had a largely disappointing 2020-21 campaign, with a series of poor results seeing them finish in eighth spot.

It was a season of transition for the Marina Machans who had just appointed their third manager in two seasons, with Csaba Laszlo replacing the Jamshedpur FC bound Owen Coyle. Losses in key areas of the pitch and poor recruitment saw the side from South India whimper out of the race for the playoffs.

Fact Sheet For Chennaiyin FC in Indian Super League Season 2020-21

Chennaiyin FC Fact Sheet

Top Performers

1. Anirudh Thapa

Anirudh Thapa Chennaiyin FC

The diminutive midfielder was a star yet again for the Marina Machans this season. Thapa’s season was marred by injury, but when he was on the pitch, it was clear to see why he is so highly regarded by fans in India.

2. Enes Sipovic

Enes Sipovic Chennaiyin FC

The big Bosnian was one of Chennaiyin FC’s better signings this season, forming a formidable partnership at the back with Eli Sabia. The pair of them kept six clean sheets and conceded just 23 goals over the course of the season.

3. Eli Sabia

Eli Sabia

Chennaiyin FC’s Brazilian stalwart, Eli Sabia had yet another commanding season at the back for the Marina Machans. The defender’s partnership with Enes Sipovic proved key for CFC. Unfortunately, the side were regularly let down by their attacking players.

Underperformer of the Season

Isma Goncalves

Isma Chennaiyin FC

The Portuguese attacker was brought into the Chennaiyin FC fold to replace the prolific Nerijus Valskis. However, Isma failed to live upto the billing, often being called out by his coach for his lack of application on the pitch. The striker scored four goals for his side; however, all his goals were from the spot, failing to score from open play in the Hero ISL.

Games Played: 17

Goals: 4

Assists: 1

Touches: 336

Passing Accuracy: 46.76%

Shots: 21

Yellow Cards: 2

Top Performances

1. Jamshedpur FC 1-2 Chennaiyin FC

WATCH: FT: Jamshedpur FC 1-2 Chennaiyin FC

2. FC Goa 1-2 Chennaiyin FC

WATCH: FT: FC Goa 1-2 Chennaiyin FC

3. Odisha FC 1-2 Chennaiyin FC

WATCH: FT: Odisha FC 1-2 Chennaiyin FC

Manager’s Report Card

Despite his side having had a poor season, Csaba Laszlo was often unlucky to see them draw or lose a number of matches in the league. It was hard to fault the Hungarian’s tactics, but the side’s inability to convert even the simplest of chances in front of goal, saw a large number of points dropped.

It was always going to be a tough campaign for Laszlo as he was tasked with taking over a team that had just lost a number of their key performers, in a period of extenuating circumstances. Next season will be a better barometer of the Hungarian’s managerial abilities, should he stay.

Lessons to be Learned

Chennaiyin FC were let down by the quality of their foreign recruitment. The likes of Isma Goncalves, Jakub Sylvestr and Fatkhulo Fatkhulloev joined the club with big reputations, but failed to convert that into anything tangible on the pitch. Thus, better recruitment and more of a desire to score goals will see Chennaiyin FC challenge for the playoffs in the next campaign.

Fan View

Prasanna Balakrishnan: The season brightly started in 52 seconds with boy wonder Anirudh Thapa striking the club’s fastest-ever goal. It seemed that Csaba Lazlo’s army were up and running. They were certain to look good for the rest of the season, only to find out that the goals would dry up at one end albeit defensively a tad better with the super tall figure of Enes Sipovic in. Draws against Kerala and NorthEast United along with back-to-back defeats against Bengaluru and Mumbai left them in a tough situation where they needed to get a string of wins going.

They got a win eventually against FC Goa, courtesy an Olympic goal from Rafael Crivellaro directly from a corner and Rahim Ali with his first of just two goals that season. Thereafter, Crivellaro got injured and our main creative threat was out for the season. Lanzarote came in as his replacement, but he couldn’t be available till just five games to go.

Halfway through the season, with just two wins, three defeats and five draws, things looked bleak. But the second half of the season started well with a 2-1 win over Odisha. Esmael Goncalves got on the scoresheet twice, before it all went down again. Couldn’t score, couldn’t win, as we managed just one goal in our next six games, courtesy of a penalty.

It took our last three games to get back to scoring ways, particularly Chhangte, as we ended our season with three draws in three games despite leading. Some sparks, many dull moments. Overall a poor season, despite many results helping us, and we never took advantage. 11 draws in a 20-game season, sums it all up. Odd season curse struck again, but if the even season is to help us, we better fix up as other teams will definitely strengthen.

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