Khel Now / Souvik Banerjee
Exclusive: My goals are to finish as top scorer and help my team flourish– Pedro Manzi
Written by: Uttiyo Sarkar
The 30-year-old has become a vital cog in Akbar Nawaz's system and is a prized asset.
Pedro Manzi has taken the I-League by storm and revolutionized football at Chennai City. The Uruguayan striker made a sharp impression on his debut, scoring a hat-trick to kick-off the season in style. Not only has he asserted himself as a goalscoring hitman, but has also helped integrate the Spanish style of football at the club.
Manzi is turning out to be coach Akbar Nawaz’s biggest asset this season. Having already scored four goals in three games, the Uruguayan has emerged as one of the best strikers in the league. Khel Now had the opportunity to sit down with the forward, speaking about all things Indian football and much more.
Manzi was intrigued by Chennai City’s interest in him earlier this year and couldn’t resist the temptation of a new experience. “My experience in India has been very good. Last season, Jordi (Vila) called me and made me an offer, which I found to be very interesting. I didn’t think about it being from India, which is so far from my home. I think India is a great place to play football, which made me accept the offer,” he said speaking about the decision to make the switch.
Manzi started his I-League tally with three goals against Indian Arrows
The way Manzi has instantly adapted to Indian football is admirable. Talking about this he explained, “I think it was very easy for me to adapt. It’s mostly due to our coach’s philosophy of going with a Spanish style of football, something I’m accustomed to. The local players are very friendly and have been very good at helping to make the adaptation process easier for me.”
Apart from scoring goals, Manzi has proven himself as a complete striker by creating chances and avidly taking part in movement in the final third. “Yes, the philosophy of our coach is to keep the ball. I’m to attract the other defenders to make space for my teammates to attack. For me, it’s easier to move around all the time in order to take the ball and score goals,” the Uruguayan stated of his style.
The South American also wants more focus from his domestic teammates. He said, “For me, the local players need to improve in concentration. When we came here, in the first week of training, the local players had no concentration. They only think about attack, attack and attack. I think us Spanish players are helping them learn about concentrating better and keeping the ball more.”
The Uruguayan shrugged off talk of a particular goals target for this season. “I never think about a particular number to score. For me, the team winning is most important. It doesn’t matter if I score one or two goals every game. The team winning matters for me.”
He also gave some insight on how coach Akbar Nawas has helped improve his game after arriving in India. “The coach has improved all the players. He has a lot of experience and has worked in many countries. I think it’s the level of experience he has which has helped not only me, but us all improve our game.”
Pedro is a prized asset for his side and is hopeful of helping his team do well
When talk of a championship victory came into the fray, the striker remained coy and added, “We’ve only played four matches! I think talking about winning the title is quite premature right now. We are still a young team, a new team and it’s going to be very difficult for us to win the championship at the end of the season.”
Manzi was all praise for the Indian players at the club and mentioned a few which have impressed him the most. “I think two players, in particular, are very similar to the Spanish players. Of course, Romario is there and Edwin is the other player. For me, these two players are very good players.”
“I think Romario and Edwin could climb high in their careers. After I arrived, these two have impressed me the most and are both extremely talented players,” he added.
“For me, Nestor (Gordillo) is the best player in our team. He has a lot of experience after playing football in Atletico Madrid’s academy. He’s playing here right now because he’s a very talented player,” the striker said when asked who he rates as the best player in the team.
When asked where Chennai need to improve to maintain their run the Uruguayan said, “For us to be champions, we need to improve our concentration level. For me, to play football concentration is key. The local players have good qualities, good performance-level and are very good players. But, they need to improve their concentration level for us to hit top-gear.”
After playing in Spain for the past few years, Manzi has been impressed by the competitiveness of the Indian top flight. “Yes, the I-League is very competitive. It’s very difficult to win a match here at home or away. I think all the teams have the capability of defeating everyone else in the league right now.”
Further elaborating on the scheduling of the league he said, “The fixtures in India are very different from that in Spain. In Spain, you play one home, one away and only play on weekends. But, here we play three matches away and then three matches at home. It’s very different here. It’s quite difficult for us to recover in short spans between some of our matches.”
The Spaniard's ability to draw opponents has proved to be beneficial for his side
The Chennai City striker is a big fan of another Uruguayan who has graced Indian football, Diego Forlan. “My favorite player is Diego Forlan. He’s definitely my idol. It’s very difficult for me to imitate my game to Diego Forlan. He’s a superstar and a very good football player. I’m not at that level.”
Manzi also spoke about the infrastructure and playing conditions in the matches so far. He explained, “I think our home stadium is very, very good due to the refurbished pitch and new grass. Gokulam’s stadium was also very good, but the training field was pretty bad. However, the stadiums in India are very good.”
Finally, the forward rounded off the conversation by outlining some personal ambitions for the season and said, “My goals are to finish as top scorer and help my team flourish."
Published: Fri Nov 16, 2018 05:50 PM IST