INDIAN FOOTBALL

Season Review of Chennaiyin FC

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The two-time champs had a forgettable season, but they showed promise.

Chennaiyin FC finished ninth in the Indian Super League with 27 points (W-7, D-6, L-7). Marina Machans had a strong pre-season, reaching the Durand Cup quarterfinals. The management produced some good international acquisitions, including Nasser El Khayati, Julius Duker, and Petar Sliskovic, who all performed to their full capacity.

Many people would agree that the outcomes ultimately did not favour Chennaiyin FC. They lost over 15 points after gaining the lead, which was devastating.

Throughout the season, the defence was a key worry, with the coach experimenting with numerous combinations until settling on the foreign pairing of Fallou Diagne and Vafa Hakhamaneshi. While Chennaiyin FC ended seventh from the start of the season, the squad has showed great promise.

Outstanding Performers

Nasser In the few games he has played this season, El Khayati Nasser has been a lifeline for Chennaiyin FC. The midfielder arrived late and had only two weeks of pre-season. This had no effect on his performance, as he scored nine goals in 12 games.

He appeared in the first several games, but was injured midway through and was unable to complete the entire 90-minute contest. His deft touches and dribbling abilities were a joy to behold. His assist in the last league game aided Chennaiyin FC in finishing on a high note.

Take a look at those figures!

Aakash Sangwan 

Aakash was one of Chennaiyin FC’s greatest Indian recruits this season. Sangwan made 63 tackles, 41 blocks, 33 clearances, and 36 interceptions in 19 matches this season. Apart from his defensive abilities, the 27-year-old also contributed five assists and 67 crosses.

His crossing skill from the left wing was exceptional, and he provided great assists. Aakash, unlike other defenders, is not physically strong, yet he has done admirably in defence.

Aakash Sangwan was one of the season’s breakout performers.

Vincy Baretto

Vincy Baretto’s strong form maintained despite switching sides from Kerala Blasters to Chennaiyin FC. The 23-year-old forward has three goals and two assists in 16 games this season. He also contributed significantly to the defence (32 tackles, seven interceptions, and two clearances). Numerous defenders struggled to keep up with Vincy Baretto’s speed, allowing him to rush through them from the right side.

Underperformer

Debjit Majumder

Debjit Majumder is an underperformer. He was signed by the southern club after impressing for East Bengal FC, where he displaced Vishal Kaith as the number one goalkeeper last season.

Debjit has surrendered 19 goals and has kept one clean sheet in nine outings this season. Samik Mitra was given the opportunity, and he took it with both hands. Debjit lacked decision-making abilities at times when making complex judgements.

Outstanding Results

3-7 NorthEast United FC Chennaiyin

Guwahati was drenched in goals!

Chennaiyin FC won 4-3. NorthEast United Football Club

CFC finished the season on a high note.

3-1 victory for Chennaiyin FC FC Jamshedpur

CFC won their first home game against JFC.

Manager’s Report Card

Chennaiyin FC replaced its head coach for the third time in three seasons, and after two seasons of failure, there were great hopes for Thomas Brdaric this season. The German head coach began pre-season training in early July and advanced to the Durand Cup quarterfinals. He got off to a good start in the ISL, winning the opening game against ATK Mohun Bagan. The team, however, lacked consistency, losing critical games.

Chennaiyin wanted to win as many games as possible in the second phase, but the club could only manage three victories in the remaining nine games, with nearly five games ending in a tie.

Brdaric did not have the luxury of fielding all six foreign players on matchday. The 48-year-old gave young Indian players game time, and the majority of them took advantage of it. Although the results did not favour the coach, the team’s overall performance was good and had the ability to play well.

With so many managers changing, might Brdaric be a possibility for silly season?

Learning opportunities

Injuries have been a huge issue for Chennaiyin FC this season. Rafael Crivellaro was replaced at the final minute by El Khayati. With Rafa’s injury state, the club should have been more proactive and made a decision on his replacement sooner. Unlike the other players, Nasser had only two weeks of pre-season training, which was insufficient, resulting in an injury. He only appeared in 12 games (mostly as a substitute). The position of center-back has been a source of worry throughout the league. Brdaric stuck with the foreign pairing of Fallou Diagne and Vafa Hakhamaneshi, but the combo couldn’t produce.

The coach then tried out a few Indian players, like Gurmukh Singh, who put in good performances and showed promise but weren’t enough (as per ISL standards). Before the following season, the management must recruit a solid Indian center-back defender.

Finally, Chennaiyin FC requires a solid creative midfielder capable of creating opportunities via the centre. Marina Machans have depended significantly on crosses and aerial balls. The lack of diversity made it simple for opposing teams to judge player movement. Rafael Crivellaro was a master of the job, and Chennaiyin FC must now find his replacement.

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