Chennaiyin FC’s French goalkeeper Gennaro Bracigliano, today in an interaction with the media, stressed on the importance of developing football in the grassroots level to awaken the giant that lies in Indian football. The Frenchman said, “If Indian football is to develop, then the youngsters need to start loving the game, and take the country forward in the sport”. Bracigliano also said that he was pleasantly surprised by the quality of football he had seen so far in the ISL, especially from the Indian players.
“In France, we have a certain opinion about the players, and I came with expectations according to that. But, what I have seen has exceeded any of those expectations.”
When quizzed about the current French national side, he said, “In 1998, we had a lot of players playing in Italy, which at the time had the most competitive league in the world. Now, we have a mix of experience and youth. That is great for the side, especially with a manager like Didier Deschamps.”
Bracigliano was not as forthcoming when quizzed about his abilities though. In reply to a question on what was his best quality, he replied that he’d prefer others talking about his qualities and not himself. He also said that he would rather talk about his abilities with trusted people in the dressing room and did not divulge anything to the media.
Alongside Bracigliano was Indian midfielder Denson Devadas, who said that he was living a dream. The Kerala midfielder said, “For me personally, to play alongside the likes of Elano and Marco Materazzi is an achievement in itself.”
Denson said that when the ISL was concpetualized, he would have preferred to play for the Kolkata or Kerala team, but he also said that he had no qualms about playing for Chennai. In his words, “Chennai has been very welcoming. The owners have been fantastic and we’ve got world class players like Elano and Materazzi who have been motivating all of us.”
Denson played for Mohun Bagan in the I-League, and his midfield partner, Harmanjot Khabra is the captain of Mohun Bagan’s fierce rivals East Bengal. Denson however said that that does not come in the way of the camaraderie that the two share. He said, “We maybe rivals in Kolkata, but now we are team-mates and we’re all striving to work for one cause.”
In 2010, Denson won the Santosh Trophy with his adopted home state of Bengal. When asked if a triumph with Kerala would have been sweeter, his response was, “As a footballer, you just want to play. Bengal, Kerala or Chennai, it does not matter.
The 31 year old Kerala man reserved special words of praise for his coach at Viva Kerala, TK Chathuni. “It was in 2004, when I was playing for Viva Kerala as a striker, Chathuni Sir told me to shift to midfield. That one decision has changed my life. I always go back to Chathuni Sir for any important football related decision that I make”.
Both Bracigliano and Denson were in an optimistic mood about Chennai’s chances in their next game against table toppers Atletico de Kolkata on Tuesday. Denson was specifically asked about Kolkata’s strength in midfield, to which he replied saying that they had already faced the likes of Robert Pires and Andre Moritz and that they were not afraid of anyone.
Bracigliano was quizzed in particular about the possible return of Luis Garcia for Kolkata and the Frenchman was forthcoming when he said Kolkata were a good all-round side, and it would be fatal to concentrate on just one player.Published 01 Nov 2014, 00:20 IST