Experienced gained from captaincy will help in the national team: Chennaiyin FC's Anirudh Thapa

Ahead of Chennaiyin FC’s match against ATK Mohun Bagan in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2021-22 season at PJN Stadium, Margao, Goa on Thursday, Anirudh Thapa spoke to Sportstar

After getting off to a decent start early in the season under the tutelage of their new coach Bozidar Bandovic, CFC struggled to build on it and keep their juggernaut rolling. Chennaiyin FC stand eighth in the table with 20 points from 19 matches. They have registered only five wins and have suffered nine defeats.

Addressing the team’s performance under Bandovic Thapa said, “He was a brilliant coach, but I think it was difficult for the players to understand what he wanted and to adapt to his playing style. The pre-season started with a 4-1-4-1 formation, but as the season progressed it turned to a 5-3-2. I think this is one of the reasons why things didn't go our way, and we couldn’t get the results.”

The midfielder was given the captain’s role at the start of the season. He has recorded a goal and an assist till now. Defensively, he has made 62 tackles, 37 blocks, 31 interceptions and 16 clearances.

Sharing his thoughts on the season so far, he exclaimed, “Everyone knows it was not a good season for us [Chennaiyin FC]. For me, the positive was that being the captain this time helped me take charge of leading the team. This experience will not only help me here but also in the national team. Apart from football, the leadership role helped me learn a lot in general and what I need to do in the future.”

He further added, “If you talk about coping with the difficulties, it is not that different from being just a player. But now the players look up to me and it is my duty to help them when they are not playing at their best. I have to make sure that everyone is performing well and what things are going wrong on the field.”

Chennaiyin FC missed their key player Rafael Crivellaro due to injury. Speaking about his absence the captain expressed, “We have all seen what Crivellaro can do. He is a great player and has the creativity to make things happen. But injuries happen and are a part of the game. Every player is important. In some ways or the other, we were lacking in our creativity.”

This season has seen the highest number of goals scored. Moreover, the league has recorded the highest number of Indian goalscorers in history.

While expressing his delight he said, “This is good for Indian football because we need players who can help the national team, especially in scoring goals. This season we have seen a lot of Indian players who have made their mark in the ISL, and when they grow, the national team grows. We all want to do better in our national colours.”

As for players at Chennaiyin FC, their interim head coach Sabir Pasha has given opportunity to players like Jobby Justin, in the last match against Kerala Blasters FC. He also hinted that other Indian players might get a chance to showcase their talent in the last fixture of the season, against ATK Mohun Bagan.

“It has been a difficult season, and many players haven’t had a chance to prove their worth. So we might give a chance to a few of those players. We know that our season has ended and we need to start looking forward to the next one," said Syed Sabir Pasha.

The next Chennaiyin FC goal will mark their 200th goal in Hero ISL. They would become the second team to reach this fleet after FC Goa. In addition, the next Chennaiyin FC win will see them record their 50th win in Hero ISL. CFC would become the third team to do so after FC Goa and Mumbai City FC.

Pasha and co. would aim to tick these two boxes in the checklist in their next match against ATK Mohun Bagan.

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