Chennaiyin FC find themselves in a spot of bother, with two games to go, the defending champions have their semi-final hopes taken out of their hands after their loss away at Mumbai City FC two nights ago.
That 0-2 reverse has pushed them to the brink as they currently sit seventh in the table, though only a point separates them from fourth-placed FC Pune City.
Ahead of their must-win clash against NorthEast United on Saturday evening, Chennaiyin head coach Marco Materazzi, for what probably felt like the 949th time, was asked if the absences of Elano and John Stiven Mendoza were the reason for the team's struggles.
“More than Elano, I think it was Bruno (Pelissari),” replied the Italian.
“If you remember, in the last four games (last season), he was the one who made the difference. And yes, also Mendoza. As I said before, in the first year Elano played very well and maybe if he hadn't had that injury, we could have won the title that year as well,” Materazzi further explained.
“What I think is that we have wasted too many chances and opportunities. If you remember the first game against Kolkata, we conceded that late goal, same thing against Pune when we conceded the free-kick in the last minute. Against Mumbai also, and Kerala at 1-0, we could have easily scored a second goal, but then we conceded three goals in the second half,” lamented the Chennaiyin coach.
Despite that, he said the team is now looking ahead at the task at hand.
“So maybe the belief this year has not been up to our expectations and what we thought. But we are now looking to get the six points and hope that the other results go our way.”
On the league as such and what developments could take place to improve the football and the tournament, Materazzi revealed what the possibility for next year could be.
“As far as I know, it's not confirmed yet, I think next year the plan is for the league to start in November and end in April, and if that's the case it won't be easy for the big names to stay on hold for 6-7 months. I also think it will not be possible to keep the enthusiasm high for such a long time,” the World Cup winner had to say.
He, however, followed it up by saying that the current format was the best.
“But according to me, the best solution has been to keep it the way it is now, for three to four months. But it's not up to me. The ISL and all those involved in it will hopefully make the right decision to keep developing football in India,” added the Italian.
Chennaiyin play NorthEast United first tomorrow at home before finishing off their league campaign against FC Goa in Goa on December 1.
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