Skipper Anirudh Thapa also shared his thoughts on playing in-front of home fans again.

Chennaiyin FC return to the Marina Arena after a gap of two years and face Bengaluru FC in their first match. Both teams are coming off a victory in their previous match and will be pretty high on confidence. Coach Thomas Brdaric is confident of putting up a good fight in front of the home crowd and is not concerned about injuries.

Skipper Anirudh Thapa joined Thomas Brdaric in the pre-match press conference. Here’s what both said.

Reason for the last-minute replacement of Rafael Crivellaro

Rafael Crivellaro was the first retained foreign player for Chennaiyin FC. He was with the team for three months in the pre-season. However, the Brazilian trequartista was not named in the club’s official squad for ISL 2022-23. Chennaiyin FC signed Abdenasser El Khayati as his replacement.

Thomas Brdaric clarified the unavailability of Rafael due to fitness issues and said he will speak about him in tomorrow’s match. “We have enough players to play with. Rafa is unfortunate not to play and we want to give him time and protect him. We are looking to the match tomorrow and not thinking about the past. All the players are the same to me.”

Competitiveness of ISL.

The first week of the ISL 2022-23 has seen highly competitive games and all the teams have fought hard in their respective matches.

The tactician replied saying “it is interesting to follow all the games with fitness being very important. Totally it is a very bounced-out league with every team equally strong. We analyze each and every team and give the input required to the players”.

Challenges facing Bengaluru FC

Bengaluru FC looked lethal at first winning the Durand Cup and then winning the first match of the ISL as well. It will be challenging for Chennaiyin to beat their Southern rivals.

“They are experienced and strong players. We have to defend well and play as a team and put pressure on them so that they are not able to fulfill their strength”.

Thoughts on Chennaiyin are not among the league favourites

Thomas Brdaric quipped, “we are humble and stay on the ground and are working really hard. The last two years have not been good so we want to first win and then celebrate. We have made changes in the last three months which is best for the team.”

Thoughts about El Khayati

El Khayati was signed only two weeks ago replacing Rafael Crivellaro.

The head coach asserted, “Khayati needs a little bit of time in training as he did not have the same preparations as the others had. Today we have one session left and then we decide which players can be played in the match”.

Anirudh Thapa’s versatility

In recent times Anirudh Thapa has played as an attacking midfielder and defensive midfielder for both the national team and Chennaiyin FC.

Coach on the versatility of Anirudh Thapa said “In my opinion, he is a great guy and has a lot of potential. I will promote him all the time and is a massive player and is very important to the team. He has the ability to play in different positions and can improve playing in those positions as well to become a better player”.

Anirudh Thapa’s learnings from the win in the first game

Chennaiyin FC were poor in the first half against ATK Mohun Bagan not able to hold the ball and get to the opposition half, but came back stronger in the second half with good substitutions.

The captain replied, “we need to be consistent and in the first game against ATK Mohun Bagan we were quite slow in the first half but came back stronger in the second half. The most important thing is to stay mentally strong and go according to the plan.”

Advantage of playing in front of home crowd

Anirudh Thapa on the importance of the home crowd said, “yes, obviously it is an advantage of playing in front of the home crowd and after two seasons we are back at the Marina Arena. With the fans back it will be an advantage. The last time we played at home was against FC Goa in the first leg of the semifinals. It was a great atmosphere back then too and this time also we will give our best”.

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