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Chennai City manager Soundararajan rejoices at first I-League win

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Chennai City bounced back after two consecutive defeats to register their second consecutive home win, against struggling Mumbai FC...

Charles de Souza completed the comeback after local hero Dhanpal Ganesh had cancelled out Anderson Raimundo da Silva’s penalty.

Chennai’s managerial change paid off as new coach Soundararajan masterminded a win against a revamped Mumbai side. The Madurai-born gaffer stated post match that they had worked intensely on maintaining a solid defensive shape in the little time he had had to mentor the team.

"In the two sessions we had, we concentrated only on the team shape,” said the Chennai manager. “We were keen to not allow the opponent to penetrate our defence. We wanted to restrict the opponents to the wings. That's why we saw numerous crosses from Mumbai, but Echezona and Ravanan dealt with the crosses well. Shahinlal Meloly took care of the crosses they failed to. With four midfielders incurving, the ball automatically went outside. That's our winning formula. We had just a single tactical session, but we were able to ensure success.

"We're not concentrating on the opponent's strength and weaknesses. We identified our problems in the midfield and defence and rectified those. As we had only two days' time, we hardly discussed the opponents' faults. We only managed to analyse ours.”

Dharmaraj Ravanan, Chennai’s skipper, read the game well while his partner Anyichie Echezona Celestine nullified Mumbai’s aerial threat. The manager heaped praise on the duo although he sounded critical of his goalkeeper Shahinlal Meloly’s communication.

"Acting as the last defender alongside Echezona, Ravanan managed to head danger away often. Both defenders had a fantastic game. His communication skill was excellent. Whenever needed, he asked for help from Ganesh and Denson [Devadas]. He's basically a calm player, and his confidence level was excellent. The Echezona-Ravanan partnership could lay the foundation for the club's near future," said Soundararajan.

His Mumbai counterpart in Santosh Kashyap congratulated him on his first I-League win before reinstating that the arrival of new coach always brings enthusiasm to the team greatly.

The former Mohun Bagan manager denied identifying Chennai’s quick equalizer as the moment that shifted the momentum in the hosts’ favour, stating his personnel failed to rebound despite having the entirety of the second half to spare. He also rued conceding Ganesh’s opener from a corner kick after working on defending set pieces intensely during training sessions.

"We started very well,” said the Mumbai manager. “We created and missed many chances. I felt we should have been awarded a penalty in the early minutes, but that's just my perception. We scored from a penalty but crucially conceded yet another silly goal in a crucial moment. We worked on set pieces perfectly on the training ground, but it has happened again. Players do mistakes.

"We tried to control the game, but a lack of commitment from a few players cost us the game. Perhaps, they couldn't play at this level. We could have bounced back after conceding a quick equaliser. We had the entire second half to get back into the game — but we failed."

He fielded a new centre-back partnership featuring veterans Mehrajuddin Wadoo and Djelaludin Sharityar after blaming his defenders on Friday afternoon for committing silly errors in the previous losses. However, he again blamed his defenders’ silly errors on Saturday night before stating he would not mind shuffling the defence again.

"I've to change my formation for every game [to see which defensive partnership ticks]. With new players coming in, I have to change the combination. The players will take some time to adjust, but it's a risk we have to take. If the defence makes a mistake, a good striker will definitely capitalise on it, as Charles did. We could have easily been 4-0 up after 25 minutes, but we only managed a slender lead,” said the 50-year-old.

On games against behemoths Bengaluru and Mohun Bagan, he said: “We didn’t have much time to prepare. We're playing two games in a week. We've played four games away from home. We have two big home games coming up, against Mohun Bagan and Bengaluru. Let's see how we can cope up with the situation."

Published: Sun Feb 12, 2017 12:50 PM IST

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