The Italian manager suggested that the tightness of the table was indicative of a rise in standards…

Chennaiyin FC entertain Mumbai City in a crunch Indian Super League fixture at Marina Arena later tonight and their coach Marco Materazzi, who has never shied away from making controversial comments, spoke to the media ahead of the game.

Despite being a string attacking unit last season, with Elano Blumer and Stiven Mendoza both producing topnotch performances in blue shirts week in, week out, they have greatly struggled in front of the goal. The arrivals of Davide Succi, Dudu Omagbemi, and Maurizio Peluso seems uninfluential, and the Chennaiyin manager claimed that he would take every game as a final, in response to a question pertaining to the said issue.

“All games are like finals for me since my birth,” announced Materazzi. “If it had not been the case, I wouldn’t have won the World Cup [in 2006]. We didn’t concede any goal [against Kerala Blasters] – we kept a clean sheet – but we should have scored in the first half, but they played better in the second half, so I think a draw is a fair result. If we win the next game we’re top and we’re fifth if we lose. As usual, we’ll take every game as a final and give everything we can.”

Whilst many allege that that too much unpredictability in the ISL has made the competition somewhat monotonous, he identified a rise in the quality of the game for only a handful of games being lopsided. Despite underlining an alleged rise in quality of the competition, he admiited that Mendoza’s absence is costing them their chances of going for the kill in games.

“My opinion is that the quality of the tournament went up and that’s why we have so many games ending as draws,” hypothesized Materazzi. “The table being so close is a symptom of the quality of the tournament going up. Regarding the attacking phase, we all know we now lack some quality because of Mendoza not joining the team. What I’m sure of is if he were to come back to India, he would be with us but he’s doing very well in New York. I wish him all the best for that.

“We now have Mulder who is a quality player but, unfortunately, now he is injured after a pretty bad tackle in the last game. What I’m sad about is that the referee didn’t believe that and he believed he was diving as he told him to get up. But it’s actually a bad injury and for now he won’t be joining the next game. I wouldn’t care about the goal margin because all I now need is a win [against City]. What matters is getting to the playoffs, and that’s what we’re focused on.”

Talking about Wednesday’s opponents in City, he singled out former Manchester United striker Diego Forlan as the one player whose inventory they should restrict to produce a result. He also heaped praise on him like he has never praised any of his player ever before.

“You need the whole team to stop a player like Forlan,” said Materazzi. A single player is not enough because if he commits one mistake, he is going to score for sure. I think that’s what gives us a motivation as each and every player of my team knows that it’s an honour to play against a champion like him. They would want to show everybody and show me in the first place that they have what it takes to take on a champion player like him.”

Chennaiyin have defeated City on all four occasions the clubs have met in the competition, but he denied being carried away as he stated that previous season’s record seldom matters in a competition that goes through transition every single season.

“Every year, everything changes. Everything is different in the ISL as compared to the previous year. The teams are different. What scares me is that this year everything has been the opposite from last year. Like Goa, we’ve always lost against them at home but this year we won. With Mumbai, we’ve always won and that record is what scares me a little bit. But I am pretty confident and I know that my players are confident as well. They’re a great team and we are looking forward to the game,” he signed off.

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