Two-time Hero Indian Super League (ISL) champions Chennaiyin FC have matched their own high standards in the recent past, having failed to reach the playoffs in the three successive Hero ISL seasons.

With German Thomas Brdaric taking on the mantle of head coach prior to the start of the 2022-23 season, the 48-year-old carved open a new identity for the Marina Machans with his attacking style of football. However, the head coach departed after things didn't go to plan with the Hero Super Cup campaign being his last fray with Chennaiyin FC.

Despite the underwhelming performances under Brdaric, youngster Samik Mitra – who was on the bench for majority of the time until last season – emerged as a bright spot. 

“Our performance was too up and down, we lacked consistency. Several key players got injured in the early part of the campaign, which hampered the momentum. We had a new set of players under a new coach, so we took time to gel. Yet, we were in contention for the top six till the last few rounds.” Mitra told News9 Sports, when asked to judge their performance.

“But we couldn’t sustain the rhythm and were unable to cope with pressure collectively. It is a drawback that prevented us from qualifying for the playoffs,” he added.

An injury to first-choice goalkeeper Debjit Majumder earned Mitra his first start in the Hero ISL 2022-23 campaign, and he dazzled with the opportunity in their game against Mumbai City FC. He showed his goalkeeping heroics making six saves out of eight shots faced on goal, conceding just two goals as his side lost 2-1 to the eventual League Shield Winners.

His performances kept him glued in the starting eleven, with Brdaric preferring the 22-year-old over first-choice Majumder until the end of the season. Having made 10 appearances in the season, Mitra made 27 saves, with a 62.79% save rate and kept two clean sheets. Completing 157 passes, the shot-stopper had 63.05% pass accuracy and seeks to improve himself over the seasons.   

“Consistency in practice helped me breakthrough into the playing XI. Brdaric didn’t give me any specific instructions but I have to concentrate on building from the back. But since our team didn’t qualify for the play-offs, we couldn’t achieve the target we had,” he said.

“I have to be more accurate with my passes and improve my distribution. I have to improve my shot-saving and aim to concede fewer goals, which would help me get more clean sheets,” he added.

With the likes of veterans Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Vishal Kaith, Amrinder Singh, and young Gurmeet Singh already in the fray for the no.1 position in the Indian national team, Mitra has his work cut out to make his way to the Blue Tigers’ squad.

“There are many capable keepers in Hero ISL, so I have to improve my performances by a few notches to come into reckoning for national duty,” he expressed.

“My aim is to help Chennaiyin FC win trophies because a player is judged by the number of trophies he has won. Obviously, I aim to play for the country,” he concluded.