ISL 2016: Chennaiyin FC hold official team launch ahead of new season
Chennaiyin FC will be looking to make it back-to-back titles in the ISL.
Indian Super League champions Chennaiyin FC held their official squad launch on Thursday evening in Chennai. The squad and the management staff were introduced at the press conference ahead of the tournament's official commencement on Saturday.
Chennaiyin FC head coach Marco Materrazi was the first one to be introduced at the event. The Italian legend was followed by assistant coach Franco Pasqualetti. All the players of the club were brought to the stage one after another following that. The Super Machans' second assistant coach Syed Sabir Pasha, goalkeeping coach Francesco Franzese and fitness coach Diego Montani were also introduced at the event.
After the entire squad was brought to their respective seats, Chennaiyin's title winning manager Materrazi was requested to speak a few words. The team's assistant coach Franco Pasqualetti had to act as a translator for the former Inter Milan player, who is not so well versed in English.
In his opening speech, Materazzi said that he is happy to have won the title last season and keep the pride of the city. The 43-year-old also stated that the club's target for this season is winning the title again.
Reporters present at the event were then given permission to ask questions to the team one by one.
Local players on the field?
Chennaiyin have a few local boys in their squad and when the head coach was asked if the Chennai crowd can look forward to see some of their local players on the field this season, the Italian replied that he doesn't give preferences to where players come from. The former Evertonian then added that he will give chance to deserving players like last year.
"As you know from last year the policy is the same. I don't care where my players come from. Whoever deserves to play will play”, Materazzi said when asked if the youngsters will be given a chance.
Already under pressure?
The Super Machans are the title defenders this season and there's always the question of pressure on the team and the management. One of the reporters at the event enquired if the team is already under pressure because they have the tag of champions and will be facing teams who have packed themselves with new players.
The Italian gave a calm reply to the question by saying that everyone wants to beat them, but the players he has picked up are hungry to win. The legendary centre-back also added that to prove they are the real Champions the team will have to win the title again.
"We know that everyone want to beat Chennai, the reigning champions, but the players I called up for this season all want to win.
“We took the challenge. We know that if you win once it can be luck but to really prove you are a champion and it's not luck you have to win again.
“We know we are going to give all we can to defend the title", the former Perugia player said.
Team behaviour a concern?
Chennaiyin were not the best behaved team in the tournament last season and when Materazzi was asked if the team behaviour is a concern this season the Italian gave a remarkable reply. The Chennaiyin FC head coach made it very clear through his words that he is not here with the team to win the discipline award.
"The only thing I cannot guarantee to anyone is that we are going to win the discipline award. Last year we were the team who scored most goals. We are the team who actually won the title. If you are looking for a coach that wants to win the discipline awards, just tell me and I am going to leave.”
Thoughts on Jeje's evolution?
Jeje Lalpekhlua was one of the most important players for Chennai in their title-winning campaign last season and is also one of the best Indian football players at the moment. It is no surprise that one of the reporters at the event asked a question to Materazzi about Jeje.
The team's manager was asked to express his thoughts on Jeje's evolution as a player and the Italian was full of praise for the Indian winger.
"Jeje is an all-round player. His growth is amazing. What I appreciate about him is that he is a complete player and also that he is a really important player to the Indian national team. I hope he will use this three more months to keep on growing.”
Contributions from the five AIFF youngsters?
Chennaiyin FC have recruited five AIFF talents to their squad this season and have been training with the first team. Materazzi was questioned if he thinks they will be able to make an immediate contribution. To this the manager gave an informative reply that many were not aware of. He explained that the youngsters are ready to play, however the rules won't let us to play them and only train with the team.
"They are ready to play but unfortunately according to the rules we can't let them play. They will be training with us.”
Marco Materazzi was not the only one who was questioned during the event. Players like John Arne Riise and Dudu were also asked questions.
Riise was asked what his strategy is as the marquee player of the team to which the Norwegian replied that he doesn't give any importance to the marquee player tag. The former Liverpool player said that he sees himself as a part of the team, but with his experience and achievements, he will act as a role model to the young players in the team. The 36-year-old also made it clear that he is a winner and hates to lose.
Riise also gave the Liverpool fans in Chennai good news by saying that he hopes to attend a few Liverpool screenings in Chennai to meet all the Reds' fans.
The question and answers session lasted for about an hour and the team posed for photographs marking the end of the event.
The entire Chennaiyin FC squad was in high spirits ahead of their first game against first season's Champions Atletico De Kolkata on Sunday and the Super Machans will be hoping to successfully defend their title.