The Chennai manager said his team has come up against goalkeepers in inspired form this season…

Despite picking up seven points in their last seven matches, Chennaiyin FC head coach Marco Materazzi is confident of reaching the semis for the third successive season of the Hero Indian Super League. The Super Machans face table-toppers Mumbai City FC at the Mumbai Football Arena on Wednesday and ahead of the match, Materazzi spoke to the media and expressed satisfaction with his team’s performance even though it doesn’t reflect much in the standings, where they are in the bottom half presently.

“Yes, we have performed well but the opponent goalkeepers have also performed well against us. As a team, I feel we are playing better than last year because last year we had great individual players like Stiven [Mendoza] but we have done better as a team overall. It is unfortunate but we could have had more points than we have now and I am pretty confident that we can still qualify for the semis as no team has qualified till now and it is still an open race,” Materazzi, whose team has 14 points from 11 games and can break into the top 4 with a win tomorrow, told reporters.

“…Since football is no science or maths, I hope we can try and collect as many points as we can and you know once you qualify for the semis, then everything starts again. In the run we had some injuries with Maurizio Peluso and some crucial players who could have made a difference for us and if we manage to make it to the semis we will have crucial players like Peluso and Jeje [Lalpekhlua] back and we will have a fresh start.”

Defending champions Chennaiyin have gathered four points from their last two games, a 2-0 win against FC Pune City and a late 1-1 draw against Atlético de Kolkata. Materazzi believes these results bode well for the team in the business end of the league stage and that they will continue to fight. “Other than the games against Delhi we have shown a good attitude and spirit towards the game. Like in the first half against Kerala in Kerala, we could have finished off the game by scoring one more goal, and in the game against ATK, we could have gone on to win the game as we were dominating in the second half. Also, against Pune we gave away a free kick and against Mumbai we could have again closed the game, so we have wasted some points but our attitude is still good. Last year also things were tough for us but we will continue to fight,” he said.

Materazzi also praised Chennai skipper Bernard Mendy, who has been inspirational for the team, and besides top-notch defending has also managed to score two important goals. “Yes, there is a reason I have chosen him as captain over my marquee player [John Arne Riise]. He has got a good attitude right from the first season. I choose players who deserve to play and Mendy over the three years has really shown that he deserves to play and if he will keep on performing he will continue playing for me and if his attitude changes, then he will not play, but as I said before he has always shown the right attitude, effort, and spirit.”

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