The Super Machans go back to the drawing board after a disappointing title defence that produced just three wins all season…
Outgoing champions Chennaiyin FC crashed out of the Indian Super League league stages unceremoniously. With three wins in 14 games, they finished seventh, just a single point adrift of bottom club FC Goa. However, they produced magical moments such as their entertaining 3-3 draw with NorthEast United and a nine-goal thriller at Fatorda Stadium; they were never the punching bags despite the ISL table making them seem one.
Fact Sheet for ISL Season 3
Games Played: 14
Won : 3
Lost : 5
Drawn : 6
Win %: 21.43%
Contrary to their ISL campaign, the Marina Machans enjoyed a superb pre-season, with manager Marco Materazzi taking his personnel to Italy for a one-month training camp. They trained in Perugia, a province that also houses Perugia Calcio, a club where the manager spent five years of his footballing career.
Against lower tier Italian clubs such as Paolo Rossi Academia, ASD Gualdo Casacastalda and ASD Torgiano, they registered huge victories scoring 12 goals as opposted to their opponents’ six. After four straight wins, they should have felt with a surge of positive energy; however, the third edition of the ISL proved too difficult for them to cope with without their departed stars.
Top 3 Players
Flop of the Season
Maurizio Peluso: Dudu’s inconsistency should have made him the flop of the season; however, Maurizio Peluso’s prolonged absence means he edges out his Nigerian teammate. Although he found first-team appearances rare in the opening stages, he produced impressive performances in late October and early November that convinced his manager that he could replicate his last season’s laurels – he netted 20 goals in 24 Serie D starts for Alto Vicentino – on the Indian soil. However, after just two starts, he sustained an injury in the 1-1 draw with Mumbai City on November 2 that sidelined him for the remainder of the season. His mobility and goal-scoring ability might have helped Chennaiyin qualify for the playoffs.
Tato’s Performance in ISL 2016
Matches : 3
Shots on Target: 4
Successful passes: 50
Top 3 Performances
- Chennaiyin FC 3-3 NorthEast United FC ( Match Report and Highlights)
Chennaiyin FC 2-0 FC Pune City (Match Report and Highlights)
- Chennaiyin FC 2-0 FC Goa (Match Report and Highlights)
Manager’s Report Card
The Chennaiyin manager was his usual self this season, finding himself embroiled in a controversy that saw him receive a one-game ban for allegedly shoving Kerala Blasters striker Kervens Belfort, refusing to talk to the media citing the dishonesty of a Chennai-based reporter and working toward improving the quality of Indian football.
Although his team selection raised a few eyebrows – Thoi Singh, Peluso and Jeje definitely deserved more minutes while unimpressive Dudu and Riise started ahead of them – he made optimum use of his personnel. The absence of Stiven Mendoza, Bruno Pelissari and Elano Blumer showed as he struggled to curate a winning formula with those he had at his dispoal. However, as he often pointed out during the course of the season, most of the defeats were down to misfortune or individual errors.
Given his reputation and ability to draw audiences and international attention, though, the Chennaiyin headhonchos shall be desperate to extend his stay in the Tamil Nadu capital. However, having spent three years in the ISL, he may fancy managing in Italy or other superior footballing nations.
Lessons to be learned
Frontline needs Mendoza-esque reinforcements
The defense was almost impeccable at times, with Eder Monteiro, Eli Sabia Filho, Bernard Mendy, Mehrajuddin Wadoo and Lalrinzuala all impressing. The midfielders also had a good season. However, Mendoza’s absence proved costly as the Chennaiyin frontline struggled to put the ball into the net. Succi and Dudu scored a few impressive goals; however, neither imposed as serious a threat as the New York City striker or looked equipped enough to lead a title-winning side. Should Chennaiyin aspire to bring the ISL title back to Marina Arena, they shall sign a striker in the mould of Mendoza next season.
Fanbase is as loyal as the Yellow Sea
Chennaiyin registered just two home wins this season as opposed to their four last season. However, the fans’ enthusiasm hardly went down as the Marina Arena averaged 22,000 fans per game this season. The fans were highly vocal throughout the season and their response to Chennaiyin crashing out of the league stages reeked of loyalty as they cheered the team for minutes, after the 3-3 draw with NorthEast United – a game that all but ended Chennaiyin’s chances of reaching the play-offs. The common concern was Mendoza’s absence, but they grew to love Augusto and Co. as evidenced by the chants from the B-Stand Blues.
Should retain Raphael Augusto
Even when the rest of the team looked soulless, Chennaiyin’s Alexis Sanchez in Augusto always kept pressing on. Hans Mulder, Eli Sabia, et al were impressive, but none had as much impact as he did. Chennaiyin now know how significant losing the best player of the previous season can be. Accordingly, should the Brazilian magician choose to return to India, they should make him don the Chennaiyin strip at all costs.
Diwakar. Student. Madras Chriistian College
In the first two seasons, Chennai had a balanced team, with Mendoza, Balwant [Singh], Pelissari and Mendy making the team strong in either half. That helped us win the title. We have a very strong backline; the defenders can never be blamed but, to score goals, we need a pacy striker. Dudu has neither skills nor pace. His scoring in the final few games did not matter in the end. We need to sign someone more prolific and faster than Dudu. We had a fantastic midfielder in Augusto, but the goals did not come. Other ISL teams such as Kolkata had a superb balance in their team. Mumbai had Uruguay legend Diego Forlan leading the line. The management needs to be shrewd in terms of signings. Otherwise, we will lack the winning spirit. Materazzi can hardly be blamed, but he cannot do well next season with the same players. We need top class attacking players next season.
Photos © ISL Media
Review by Khel Now Correspondent from Chennai Praveen R. Paramasivam.