The CFC head coach also spoke about their new signing Valskis.

Chennaiyin FC, led by Bozidar Bandovic will aim to break into the top-four at the expense of Hyderabad FC when the two sides meet in Indian Super League (ISL) 2021-22 at the PJN Stadium in Fatorda on Thursday.

Placed sixth in the points table, Chennaiyin will dislodge Hyderabad from fourth position as they are on 14 points to Hyderabad’s 16. Chennaiyin lost to FC Goa in their last encounter but their defence has been solid and against a Bartholomew Ogbeche-less Hyderabad, they would fancy their chances of holding fort even more.

The current front-runner in the golden boot race finds himself suspended for Hyderabad’s upcoming match after picking up his 4th yellow card in the last game. Ogbeche is a vital cog in has Hyderabad’s wheel and head coach Manolo Marquez will have his task cut out without the star Nigerian marksman.

Ahead of the clash, both teams’ head coaches – Bozidar Bandovic and Manolo Marquez – spoke in the pre-match press conference

Chennaiyin FC coach Bozidar Bandovic

Analysis of Hyderabad FC

Bozidar Bandovic: This is one of the best organised teams and has the same coach from before. They are a dangerous team who have built themselves nicely. The way they have played shows that it will not be easy against them.

Changes in formation

Bozidar Bandovic: When you play as we played in the last game, you can say it is difficult. But when you take games such as the ATK Mohun Bagan one and even the game that we lost against Bengaluru FC we played beautifully, we made movements and tactically we were very good. I don’t think the system is a problem. You need to have patience because in two months you cannot have consistency and to be champion is not possible.

Time running out ahead of play-offs

Bozidar Bandovic: In most of the games, we did that except the last one. Under pressure, you sometimes need to play the long ball. Yes, we need to be better at this. We will try to repeat the positive. If somebody is not available, we will continue to improve at attacking. We lost so many duels and second balls, we need to be more aggressive.

Performance of Indian players

Bozidar Bandovic: Unstable, which is normal. When you have players without training for five months, suddenly after weeks of preparation and you play every three-four games, this is totally normal. Some games they played well and even foreign players go through that. They can do better, they need time. There is not much space to work.

Expectations from Valskis

Bozidar Bandovic: Valskis was not in sync with the physical condition of all our players. He asked me to change him and we need to look into this before the next game. The way how we attacked, I wasn’t happy with that. That didn’t help him either and we cannot judge him on one game. I believe in the next games, his physical condition and learning of the game will be much better. We know his quality and I’m sure he will help his team.

Hyderabad FC coach Manolo Marquez

Effect of loss against KBFC

Manolo Marquez: I don’t know any team in my life that doesn’t lose one game. In football, you either win, draw or lose. There are some moments in the league when you can be a lot of games unbeaten like our team. And then there is a moment in a season when you are not okay and maybe you don’t get to win some games.

But I think that day against Kerala Blasters FC was not one of our worst games. We missed some clear chances and they have some very good offensive players and a strong defensive side too. In my opinion, I don’t think (it will break momentum) and we will continue in a good way. Let’s see. We face a tough opponent again.

Points to improve for HFC

Manolo Marquez: I don’t know but if you play one leg and you have 16 points with four wins, four draws and two defeats and you repeat in the second leg the same numbers then the team could be in the semi-finals. Then we have to recover the team physically and mentally and let’s see what happens. In this league every day, every interview with the coach is the same. We can see that every team can beat the other.

Even SC East Bengal with eleven Indian players made it difficult. Jamshepdur FC only scored in the 88th minute. All the teams are very tough with a lot of good players and every game is very tough.

About Chennaiyin FC’s campaign has been so far? 

Manolo Marquez: They have a new coach and a lot of new players. In the beginning, especially in our game they didn’t deserve to win. But results give you confidence. They started the season very well after that they lost some games. After that, it’s been up and down but there are seven teams separated by three points. If we win, we will be top of the table but if we lose, Chennaiyin FC will go above us.

They are a strong team with a very good coach and are well organised. Of course, it will be another difficult game because they don’t create many chances but concede very few. They have conceded just 12 goals and seven of those are in two games. It means that they have conceded just five goals in eight games. They are a team that prepares to play in a counter-attacking style rather than manage the possession. They have another style but are a very good team.

About the loss to CFC in the first leg

Manolo Marquez: I think it was an accident to lose that game. I don’t remember clear chances for Chennaiyin FC. It’s true that in that game they played with ten players behind the ball and they took advantage of one mistake from our team and Anirudh Thapa was very clever and won a clear penalty. But it is not about learning from that game but about how we want to play. In football, if you don’t score your chances, it can happen again. Sometimes, you can also play a bad game and still win 1-0. You don’t know what will happen. In this competition, anything can happen.

Effect of Bart Ogbeche’s absence due to yellow card-suspension

Manolo Marquez: Zero effect.

Tight play-off race

Manolo Marquez: We are playing a very difficult competition. All 11 teams are in a bubble for a long time. We don’t know what will happen. We don’t know if more games will be cancelled or when we will play. I think the teams that are mentally stronger have better chances than other teams.

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