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Maybe the fans can do more to come out and support us-Materazzi


The Italian manager also refused to concede that his team have been defensively inconsistent...

Knowing their place in the playoff stages is in jeopardy, Chennaiyin FC coach Marco Materazzi is readying his side for a crucial game against a rejuvenated FC Pune City side at Marina Arena on Tuesday night.

The Chennaiyin fans have been showing unrest on Facebook and Twitter, with many questioning Materazzi’s inability to pick up where they had left off last season, after losing key players in Elano Blumer and Stiven Mendoza. Speaking to the press on Monday afternoon, he questioned the loyalty of the fans, with the stadium attendance going down with each passing game.

“We will keep on fighting because we’re the first ones who cheer for Chennai,” stated Materazzi. “Maybe, you can help us out by coming to the stadium in huge numbers like 30,000. You can definitely help us out. I’ve been a fan as well when I was a kid, but you identify good fans during times of crisis. It’s easy to cheer for the team when they’re winning. We need the fans to cheer for us even when we’re not winning.”

Tuesday’s game will be the Blues’ third in seven days, and when questioned whether fatigue could result in Chennaiyin losing more points, he said: “That’s why we made many changes [in the previous games], so we’re not worried about the fitness status of the team. I know we conceded in the dying minutes, but we have to be smarter and not concede set-pieces in the last few minutes as free-kicks made us concede the goals.”

The World Cup winner usually has his assistant beside him, translating journalists’ questions in Italian and Materazzi’s comments to English; however, he uttered a few words in English for the first time this season when he lambasted a journalist, who questioned his team selection. Misinterpreting the journalist’s question, he proceeded to suggest that he should no longer write.

Despite keeping three clean sheets in nine outings, they have conceded the most goals this season. However, the Chennaiyin manager denied blaming his personnel as he claimed that their poor defensive record was merely due to unfortunate circumstances.

“We lost the Kerala [Blasters FC] game 3-1, but we thought the first goal was a foul,” reiterated Materazzi. “The second goal was the goalkeeper’s mistake, and the third goal was a counter-attack. Out of the 14 goals we’ve conceded, seven were against Delhi. Other goals were from free-kicks. The only goal from open play came from a 25-metre shot. There’s not much you could do about such goals, so I don’t think we’re inconsistent. You can’t predict those kinds of things. If it’s a free-kick, we don’t think it’s a fair one in that case. If it’s seven from Delhi out of the 14 goals, it does not mean we’re inconsistent in that way.”

Although he often claims his side lose and win only as a unit, he singled out Dudu Omagbemi for their recent losses, censuring the Nigerian’s inadequacy as a finisher. He said, “I wanted Dudu to score the second goal against Mumbai and Kerala. If that happened, we would talk about different games and a different table altogether. This is football, and you cannot predict whatever happens on the pitch.”

Rumour has it that the former Inter Milan defender will not return to India for the fourth edition of the ISL because of his strained relationship with the ISL management. He elected not to give a clear answer to questions about his Chennaiyin future as he said it was not up to him to decide upon his involvement in the upcoming seasons.

“Regarding my chances of being here next year, I’m very straightforward,” claimed Materazzi. “I don’t have anything to hide. The whole thing with [Kervens] Belfort was made up. I just wanted to shake hands with him. This thing was made to irritate the Kerala fans. When I’m subjected to injustice, I get upset. It’s not that I don’t want to be here. It’s not that I’m upset with anyone at the ISL. It’s not just what happened, and I’m upset because I was being subjected to injustice.”

The Marina Machans have been playing brilliant football, with Raphael Augusto, Maurizio Peluso, Eli Sabia Filho, Jeje Lalpekhlua, Jerry Lalrinzuala, and Hans Mulder all impressing. However, they have been unable to convert stalemates into wins. When quizzed about the same, he surprisingly stated his team lacked experience and were immature.

“In Kolkata, there was some lack of experience; I was very upset after the draw,” confessed Materazzi. “At Pune, we conceded from a free-kick, and that changed the whole game because we were dominating the whole game. Against Mumbai [City FC], we failed to close the game and conceded from that 25-metre shot. We’re still an immature team, but we have shown that we can battle with every team in the ISL.

At Kerala, the ball did not even cross the halfway line for the first 15 minutes; no shot on target was registered for a long time, and that shows we still have the quality to make it.”

Photo © ISL Media

Report by Khel Now Correspondent from Chennai Praveen R. Paramasivam

Published: Mon Nov 14, 2016 09:49 PM IST


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