The Marina Machans have had a decorated history in the Indian Super League.
Over the short history of the Indian Super League, Chennaiyin FC have kept up the exemplary sporting standards of their namesake city, winning two of the six league titles on offer. The grass at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Chennai has been graced by some of the best Indian and foreign players that the league has seen, from Elano Blumer to Stiven Mendoza, in this time.
We at Khel Now have compiled our picks for the best Marina Machans side of all-time.
Goalkeeper: Karanjit Singh
The 34-year-old goalkeeper joined Chennaiyin FC in 2015 on loan from Salgaocar FC and has since gone on to make 63 appearances for the side, winning two Indian Super League titles in the process.
Singh currently occupies a player-coach role for the team. As the shot-stopper has retained his position in the side for most of its existence, his inclusion in the all-time XI is undisputed.
Right-Back: Harmanjot Khabra
The former Sporting Goa and East Bengal right-back was one of the Marina Machans’ standout performers in the 2015 season. Khabra made a name for himself as a buccaneering full-back, who was not afraid to make inroads into the opposition half.
The 31-year-old made 34 appearances for the South Indian side before moving to Bengaluru FC in 2017.
Centre-Back: Bernard Mendy
The former Paris Saint-Germain star was one of the standouts for the Marina Machans over the course of his 39 appearances for the side in the ISL. Mendy earned himself a reputation as a tough tackling centre-half with a keen eye for goal.
Any fan of the Chennai outfit would be loathe to forget the Frenchman’s acrobatic effort in 2014 against rivals Kerala Blasters. Mendy’s instrumental performances in the 2015 title-winning campaign earn him a place in our side.
Centre-Back: Mailson Alves
Former Chennaiyin FC skipper Mailson Alves was one of the club’s most successful signings over the course of the three years he spent with them. The Brazilian led the side to the title in 2017-18, scoring two goals in the final to beat Bengaluru FC 2-3, earning the Man of the Match award for his efforts.
Under his captaincy, Chennaiyin finished as runners-up in the Super Cup, progressed through the 2019 AFC Cup qualifying playoffs and became the first ISL side to make an appearance in the continental competition, all of which make the Brazilian an obvious inclusion in our side.
Left-Back: Jerry Lalrinzuala
The defender has been a crucial cog in the Chennaiyin FC defence since he joined in 2016. A grafter, Jerry endeared himself to the fans with his ability to stick to his guns against the meanest of oppositions.
He was also awarded the Emerging Player of the Season in 2016 for his performances. This was quickly followed by the ISL trophy in the following campaign.
Central Defensive Midfielder: Anirudh Thapa
Fans of Chennaiyin FC have had the privilege of witnessing one of Indian football’s brightest prospects grow into a complete player, in Anirudh Thapa. The diminutive midfielder has become a crucial member of the side over his years at the club, making 69 appearances and winning the 2017-18 ISL title.
Thapa has been widely praised for his ability on the ball, often winning his side games with his performances in the heart of midfield. The former Minerva Punjab player takes an important place in our midfield three.
Central Midfielder: Elano Blumer
The Brazilian attacker was Chennaiyin’s marquee player for the first edition of the ISL and remains one of the best to have graced the competition. Elano mesmerized the Chennai crowds with his flair and ability from set pieces – a trait that has served him well all through his career.
The former Manchester City man spent two seasons at the Marina Arena, making 26 appearances in the erstwhile shortened format of the ISL, scoring 12 goals, including eight strikes from just 11 games in his first campaign. The former title-winning captain of the team is the first of our attacking midfielders.
Central Midfielder: Raphael Augusto
Before leaving for Bengaluru FC, Raphael Augusto was one of Chennaiyin’s longest-serving players, making 69 appearances in five years at the club. The Brazilian cemented his position in the South Indian side’s attack, playing in every game in the 2016-2017 campaign.
Augusto also played crucial roles in the 2015 and 2017-18 title wins, despite missing the final in the former through injury. The attacker’s performances with the side and his connect with the fans earn him a place in our lineup.
Right Winger: Stiven Mendoza
The Colombian dynamo was in prolific form during his spell at the Marina Arena, scoring 17 times in just 25 appearances for the club.
Before his move to New York City FC, Mendoza established himself as a firm fan-favourite, with his goals spurring the side to victory in the 2015 edition of the ISL. The attacker now plies his trade at Amiens in the second division in France.
Striker: Jeje Lalpekhlua
If there was a Mr. Chennaiyin FC, it would be Jeje Lalpekhlua. The “Mizo Sniper” has made the most appearances for the South Indian side, with 77 over the course of six years. His 25 goals for the club played major roles in their title-winning campaigns in 2015 and 2017-18.
While the striker is currently out of contract, he will be remembered fondly by fans of Chennaiyin FC for his commitment to the cause.
Left Winger: Bruno Pelissari
Yet another Brazilian in our side, Bruno Pelissari quickly became a cult hero at the Marina Arena with his impressive performances for the club from 2014-2015.
The former Atletico Paranaense youth product struck up an impressive camaraderie with Jeje and Stiven Mendoza, with the trio wreaking havoc on opposition defences in the 2015 title win. The Brazilian attacker takes up the final spot in our side.