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We should try to score a goal first- Raja

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The Chennai manager feels his team are getting better...

Chennai City host I-League juggernauts Mohun Bagan at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on Saturday evening after earning just a single point in three games in their top-flight debut.

Despite the Mariners earning eight points more than them, City gaffer Robin Charles Raja denied acknowledging the difference in quality between the two teams as he hypothesized that the difference in points would not influence the game in Chennai. “They have nine points on board, but inside the field, it’s going to be 11 Vs 11 and not nine versus one. We’’ll approach the game accordingly,” said Raja.

Although they sit seventh, above Churchill Brothers, Minerva Punjab and Shillong Lajong, Raja’s men have failed to find the net in 270 minutes, and the former Chennai Football League winner admitted that they should score goals to get their season up and running. He also announced the potential arrival of Tamil Nadu striker Reagan, who has played under him in the Santosh Trophy.

“We have just played three games,” said Charles Raja. “We’re getting better and better. We have just a point, but the strikers and many other players came only three days before the first game. They are getting better. We have another local player Reagan almost in our bags, with only the paperwork pending.

“We should try to score a goal first. Any player, any team and any coach wants goals. We have not done that so far. That has been a really main issue. That’s one thing we are really working on. Otherwise, we’re trying to be better.”

City’s performance against DSK Shivajians was a far cry from their valiant display against I-League champions Bengaluru at Kanteerava Stadium. The City gaffer admitted to have committed a rookie mistake as their laid-back attitude cost them their game against the Pune club.

“We went to Bengaluru, knowing we would play the AFC Cup finalists,” said Charles Raja. “We approached the game in a more defensive way. Against DSK, because of our intent to attack, we left a lot of space behind and were punished.”

Despite City’s potential, the lack of chemistry in the attacking half has seen them be toothless in front of goal. “That’s what is lacking,” said Charles Raja. “Maybe, it’s the language barrier as our strikers are Brazilian. I have been working with them, mostly midfielders and forwards — between travels and training sessions, whenever we find time. We’ll now put more focus on midfielders and forwards.”

Although a lot was said regarding opportunities for local talents before the start of the season, only Dharmaraj Ravanan and Dhanpal Ganesh have cemented their places in the starting line-up. Quizzed about the local contingent, he revealed that they had been learning the trade from the more experienced players in the team.

“We have some of the league’s most experienced players such as Dharmaraj Ravanan, who had played for Mohun Bagan earlier and a few local players like Soosairaj Michael. They are getting better every day, with every passing training session. [It’s the] first time they are into the professional setup. We have many very good on- and off-field players like Karanjit Singh, Dhanpal Ganesh and Dharmaraj Ravanan; they have taken those players under their wings,” said Charles Raja.

Defensive midfielder Ganesh, who accompanied the manager to the press conference, admitted his grief over the team’s results and promised to try with all his might to bounce back.

Additionally, Charles Raja revealed that Karanjit would return to the starting line-up although he claimed to be ignorant of Haroon Amiri’s availability. He also denied revealing if Reagan would make the starting line-up in the event of being cleared in time for kick-off.

 

Published: Fri Jan 20, 2017 11:46 PM IST

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