One word that would describe Chennaiyin FC would perhaps be 'consistent'. The team's consistency in the previous season of the ISL was evident as the club made it all the way to the final only to have their hearts broken by ATK. In fact, this was the first time Chennaiyin FC lost after making it to the final of the Indian Super League.
While there might be some momentum from the previous season, there has been some rebuilding to do as far as the Chennaiyin FC management is concerned. The exit of head coach Owen Coyle prompted the appointment of Csaba Laszio.
The new coach brought in ideas of his own and subsequently went on to recruit players he believed in and had worked with before. In the context of the 2020-21 season, it would seem as though Chennayin FC is on the right track despite some more recruiting to do.
That said, let's look at why the Chennai-based ISL club could be a title contender this season.
1) The heartbreak of the 2019-20 season
There was a lot expected from the 2020 ISL final, especially given the fact that both ATK and Chennaiyin FC had previously qualified for the final on two occasions.
It was only natural that one team would claim the glory and one would be left heartbroken. Unfortunately for Chennaiyin FC, ATK won the game and broke the Chennai side's 100 percent record of winning ISL finals.
This time around, it wouldn't be surprising if there is a little more fire in the players to reclaim what they narrowly lost out on last season. In fact, this season, the club have opted to do things a bit differently following the exit of sharpshooters Jeje Lalpheklua and Nerijus Valskis.
2) Defensive signings who could prove to be the difference
The 2019-20 season witnessed a change in the fortunes of the club in January when the team went on an unbeaten run all the way to the 2020 final. However, the club had one of the worst defensive records in the season, having let in 24 goals while scoring just 30.
This season, it would seem as though coach Laszio has strengthened the positions in the team that needed improvements. So far, he has brought in the likes of Enes Sipovic and Memo to occupy the central defensive positions while former Bengaluru FC left-back Chhuantea Fanai has been brought in to shore up the defence.
With Reagen Singh signing from NorthEast United FC and Vishal Kaith putting pen to paper to a contract extension, the Chennaiyin FC defence looks solid this season.
3) Quality Indian players in the ranks
Despite the transfer of Indian stalwart Jeje Lalpheklua, there are several players within the Chennaiyin FC ranks that possess phenomenal quality. The promotion of forward Aman Chetri from the Chennaiyin academy is evidence of younger and exciting Indian talent coming through the ranks at the club.
In addition to Chhunatea Fanai, the likes of Thoi Singh, Anirudh Thapa, Dhanpal Ganesh, and Vishal Kaith are homegrown players who can definitely prove to be the difference for the club this season.Published 10 Oct 2020, 16:01 IST