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Former teammates Materazzi, Zambrotta face-off in ISL (Preview)

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Chennai, Oct 5 (IANS) Marco Materazzi and Gianluca Zambrotta have been teammates in Italy's football team and shared many glory days together, including the 2006 World Cup success. But that friendship won't stop them -- now that they have turned coaches -- from making it difficult for each other when Chennaiyin FC and Delhi Dynamos face-off in an Indian Super League (ISL) match here on Thursday.

While Materazzi has been in India for the last two years with Chennaiyin, Zambrotta is only making his debut in the Hero ISL after taking over Dynamos from Brazilian legend Roberto Carlos.

"I know him as a player and not as a coach. I am happy to see him here in India because this is a great chance for him to grow as manager and I wish the best for him," Materazzi said during his pre-match interaction with the media.

Chennaiyin FC had to settle for a point against Atletico de Kolkata after conceding a late penalty in their first round encounter and as they return home will be keen to log full points at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.

"I think we have to divide between pressure and obsession. We don't have any pressure to win or obsession to become champions because we have already won the tournament last year. It's a pleasure to defend the title and we will do that until the last match. I am not putting any pressure on the players," said Materazzi.

Conceding penalties has been Chennaiyin's bane since the start of the Hero ISL and Materazzi said this was part of a learning process, particularly for the younger players in the team.

"I have to agree with the referee that it was actually a penalty and it happened due to inexperience. When you are 18 (years old), you tend to make these mistakes; if not only 30 year or older players will play. You have to learn from these mistakes and be cautious in the penalty area," said Materazzi, who guided his team to the title last year.

Just like Chennaiyin FC, Delhi Dynamos too will base their game on a strong defensive structure. The visitors. however, will miss the services of two important players from last season, John Arne Riise and Hans Mulder, both now playing for Chennaiyin FC.

"I am very happy with the pre-season. We had a good pre-season and am more than happy with it, but the championship starts tomorrow. We will see tomorrow if we have done a good job. We hope to do a good job," said the Italian.

"For me, it's important that the team remains compact when we attack as well as when we defend but more importantly it's important to have the winning mentality. I have come here to win something," said Zambrotta.

--IANS

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