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Jerry Lalrinzuala is a kid but plays like a man- Marco Materazzi


The Italian wants his team to be intelligent in order to manage different situations in games...

Chennaiyin FC host rivals Kerala Blasters in what has been billed as the south Indian derby in the Indian Super League later tonight and their coach Marco Materazzi wants his personnel to be smarter in the upcoming games.

The Super Machans conceded from a free-kick in their most recent ISL outing against Pune City, and the former World Cup winner suggested that his players not being naïve could have averted the goal, thereby catapulting the defending champions to the pinnacle of the ISL standings. He also denied directly blaming the officials as he only voiced his opinion about how a referee should perform.

“I’m happy about the performance,” delighted Materazzi. “I’m talking about myself and not the guys. I’m also upset because we lost two points [against Pune City]. It was actually a free-kick in our favour, but then, we weren’t smart enough and it turned out to be one against us. If were a little smarter, we would talk about two away victories.

“We just have to be smarter and should not give away free-kicks. I think the level of refereeing has gone up. As long as the referee is not trying to steal the show – or if you don’t end up talking about the referee [after the game] – that is okay. The less you talk about the coaches or referees, the more you talk about the players and the game, the more the level of the game is going to rise.”

Chennaiyin are easily the most consistent side in the league having qualified for the play-offs in all the editions of the showpiece competition. However, their manager feels results from the past hardly changes the way they perform on the pitch.

“The previous games do not have influence on the next games because if they had, we would have lost our last two games,” pointed out Materazzi. “After the Delhi game, I was really disappointed because it was the worst game I’ve ever had in the ISL; however, my players are mature enough to change their attitude, and they did as they proved it on the pitch.”

Eli Sabia Filho has been a revelation since making his ISL debut in the 2-0 win against FC Goa at home. He has since started every game for the Blues, leapfrogging both marquee player and Liverpool legend John Arne Riise and skipper Bernard Mendy in the pecking order. The Chennaiyin manager was full of praise for the Brazilian defender as he also praised his other defenders for behaving like professionals whilst sitting out games.

“Eli [Sabia] has shown lots of quality in the defensive sector,” praised Materazzi. “We all know that the first-choice partnership is Riise and Mendy, but I can’t praise [Eder] Monteiro and Eli enough for being so professional, so mature, and acting like real men on and off the pitch. As I’ve said many times before, whoever deserves to play will play in my team. This year, my whole squad knows that the team comes before the name. Maybe, we lacked this philosophy in the previous two seasons but, all my players are mature enough to understand this now.”

Chennaiyin’s captain Mendy has been a fan favourite since his first appearance in a blue shirt and, by the looks of things, he is also the apple of Materazzi’s eyes as the manager lauded his demeanour whilst also stating his place in the starting line-up is never a sure thing just because he has built a great reputation in Chennai.

"Mendy wasn’t in the starting eleven [in the NorthEast United game] but showed that he was mature and a professional,” said Materazzi. “He kept on cheering the whole team and then, he got on the pitch and did well.

You can see in my philosophy or way of thinking when I played Jerry [Lalrinzuala]. He’s a kid but plays like a man; that’s my philosophy. Whoever deserves to play will play, and you’ll see this recurring this season.”

The ISL is easily one of the most competitive leagues, with bottom club FC Goa still mathematically in the mix to finish as the league winners. The former Inter Milan defender acknowledged the importance of being in a strong position at the end of the first phase of the tournament but stated winning games in succession would not come easy.

“These two games would be fundamental for us. It is not even easy to win one game in this league, so it is even tougher to win two games in a row, but we did a very good week of training. We know we’re facing a really good team with a really good defence and quality in the attacking sector. I think our growth process has to go through the home games.

If we had won against Pune, we would have been atop the table, but that did not happen. We now have to get back on track. We need to build up the winning mentality and an aggressive mentality once again. You can never stop in this league. If you do, teams like Goa, who are not in a great position – they are a good team – now, can climb above us. We will keep on training and try to win as many games as possible,” he concluded.

Photo © ISL Media

Report by Khel Now Correspondent from Chennai Praveen Paramasivan.

Published: Sat Oct 29, 2016 10:40 AM IST


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