The Marins Machans can jump to third with a win against NorthEast United.

Chennaiyin FC will want to make the most of NorthEast United’s woeful form and clinch a victory to re-enter the top four when they face the Highlanders on Saturday. Bozidar Bandovic’s side are currently seventh, with 15 points from 11 games. A win on Saturday can take them as high as third, above Hyderabad FC and Mumbai City. But, the Marina Machans have just one win in their last five games.

Reaching there will be a ‘big success’ for the team, feels coach Bandovic. But, for that to happen, he insists Chennaiyin FC will need to be a stronger team. Bandovic though would consider his side stronger than their next opponents on just pure form. NorthEast United are winless in their last five games and have won just two games all season after playing 12.

The Chennaiyin FC coach spoke in detail about his team’s preparations for the game, his analysis of NorthEast United and more at the pre-match press conference. Here’s what he said:

Has the COVID-19 situation affected the team?

Bozidar Bandovic: For me, it is the first time (being and playing in a bio-bubble). It is very difficult for all of us. Without families and sometimes without freedom you cannot go outside. We are getting tested twice or thrice a day. There is no space to come out. It’s quite difficult to focus and concentrate. It is easy for anyone to say from the outside, but you need to be here to know how difficult it is. 

But, the atmosphere in the team is very good and the players are training very well. I’m proud of this team, the players and how they have reacted. As a club, we don’t have cases and everybody strictly follows the rules.

Given the team’s quality, should Chennaiyin FC be higher in the points table?

Bozidar Bandovic: I think if we make the top four, it is a big success for us as there are many good teams. I feel we are unstable in attacking and we need to improve this to make this a stronger team.

How good it is to have all six foreign players available?

Bozidar Bandovic: We didn’t have all of them till now. In the first 10 games, we played without one foreigner. It is always better for us to have one more option (of a foreigner). But, I didn’t want to say it as it would be an excuse. So, I’m very happy that we have all our foreign players available and it gives us more options to change the game.

Reason behind benching Lallianzuala Chhangte? Is the team’s formation a reason?

Bozidar Bandovic: Yes, the formation is one reason. But, he is training very well. We used him from the bench to help the team. I need to think about the team as no one is above it.

Worried about lack of creativity from midfield?

Bozidar Bandovic: In some games, we did well in attack. There were a few games where we weren’t stable, so we need to improve on the decision-making. We need to have more confidence and move the ball better, change sides, and have more possession. We want to dominate games. There were some games where we did this. So, we need to continue doing our best with the most important being tomorrow’s game.

Thoughts on NorthEast United

Bozidar Bandovic: They have some good players in Imran (Khan), (VP) Suhair and (Deshorn) Brown who is a very dangerous player. They played three days ago. We have analyzed them and they use three upfront to press, so we will prepare our team for this and we also saw some of their other games to see how they play. 

I’m more focused on my team and how we will play. We will use our strengths for the match.

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