The Chennaiyin assistant boss said his team want to win all their remaining games…

Chennaiyin FC finally halted their winless run of five games on Tuesday night as they vanquished an uninspiring FC Pune City side 2-0 at Marina Arena in the Indian Super League. The win takes their points tally to 13 as they now sit fifth, level on points with fourth-placed Atletico de Kolkata, who have played one game less.

Talking to the media after the match, assistant manager Syed Sabir Pasha stated that the players were on cloud nine after claiming City’s scalp. Stressing upon their compactness, he claimed they must keep up the level of performance in the next few games.

“We’ve to take three points [in every game from now],” said Pasha. “There’s no other go. The mood is upbeat as everything is going right. We just have to stay more compact and that’s something Marco [Materazzi] has been stressing upon. The players had not done that until today. There was no chance for them to come back after we had scored two goals. We sealed the victory. We stood compact here today and should continue to do the same in the upcoming games.”

Raphael Augusto has been the Marina Machans’ outstanding player this season, with his knack for creativity and tackles being an important aspect of their game. However, he was assigned a different role as he operated in the hole, with Manuele Blasi filling his shoes in the midfield. When quizzed about Augusto’s position, he said, “Raphael is such a good player; you cannot control [him]. If you fix him a role, he has to stick to the role and he’ll be restricted in so many ways. Today, he had a free role that suited him perfectly. He changed the game. The [City] defense was worried more about Raphael than Jeje [Lalpekhlua] or [Davide] Succi. He has so much of talent, so you’ve to do that to get the most out of his talent. Marco has done a good job of getting his talent out.”

The Chennaiyin manager hitherto has been making numerous changes to his squad as well as system and to the question of whether Augusto would play as an attacking midfielder in the next few games, he revealed that the head coach always had his final say. “It depends upon the opponents. Marco got it right today as he usually does. If he feels that, it may continue,” he said.
Chennaiyin have often been criticized for not killing off games when they could, with their Italian manager even acceding. Against the Stallions, they answered their critics when Italian Succi doubled the lead six minutes into the second half. On the importance of the second goal, he said: “You cannot rely on one goal. You have Sissoko and so many top players playing for them, so any one strike can harm us. It’s better to have two goals rather than one. The second goal was very important for us to seal the game. We’ve scored in every game and the only thing we have to do is stay compact and replicate our first half performances in the second.”

The Blues made surprising changes to the line-up as both Eli Sabia Filho and marquee player John Arne Riise were demoted to the bench, with Eder Monteiro partnering Bernard Mendy at the heart of the defense. The Brazilian, in his first start of the campaign, proved they boasted a top-class defender at their disposal as he earned a respectable 7.65 rating from the official ISL website.
“He’s a very good player,” said Pasha. “Eder did a great job. Since it was his first match, he was giving away some fouls. However, once he settled down, you know what his quality is. He is not only a good player as he is also a very good commander. He commands the team in a very good way. He keeps motivating, and that’s important. With Mendy and Eder returning, you could see how the team played. Unfortunately, we have many very good players in that position, so it was very difficult [to offer him game time before], but Marco has done a good job at rotating, giving everyone chances and keeping everyone happy. Every defender has been given his chance.”

After four days’ rest, Chennaiyin take on playoff berth rivals Kolkata on Sunday night in Chennai. A positive result at home is crucial as they travel to Mumbai to face Diego Forlan-skippered Mumbai City FC on 23 November.

Photo © ISL Media

Report by Khel Now Correspondent from Chennai Praveen R. Paramasivam