El Khayati’s hunger has impressed me: Chennaiyin FC head coach Thomas Brdaric

Chennaiyin FC head coach Thomas Brdaric heaped praise on forward Abdenasser El Khayati for his outstanding performance as his side thumped NorthEast United FC in a 10-goal thriller at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Guwahati on Saturday.

El Khayati ran the show for the visitors, notching a hat-trick alongside two assists as he set a new record in Guwahati for most goal contributions in a Hero ISL match. The 33-year-old is now the league’s leading goal scorer and has 11 goal contributions this season.

Brdaric, who attended the post-match press conference felt that El Khayati made the difference for his side against the Highlanders. But despite the margin of the victory, the German felt it was not an easy result for his side.

Here are the excerpts from Brdaric’s press conference:

Your thoughts on your team’s performance?

I’m happy with the performance. We were offensive and we scored seven beautiful goals. We have to take a rest and for the next 48 hours we can enjoy this win, but there the next match against Kerala Blasters FC is awaiting us. I’m delighted with the seven goals.

Your thoughts about the league table and the teams that are in fray for the top six?

Everybody can beat each other. The games have been very close. Today as well. The NorthEast United coach has a tough job here and to prepare the team for a high level, he needs time. The Hero ISL (level) is higher, but Mumbai City FC have had an outstanding season. Some teams are behind them. Some tough teams are yet to play them. So next week, we have a big fight against Kerala Blasters FC. They are a good team and have a good coach. He (Ivan Vukomanovic) wants to beat me, and I want to beat him. I’m looking forward to this match. But with these three points in our pocket, it will be much easier to prepare the team for the next match.

Your thoughts on El Khayati?

He has been outstanding. He made the difference (tonight). He is a professional. He didn’t come here for money, but to deliver. I see hunger in him. Despite his age, his hunger has impressed me. When you are a professional like him, then you have rewards with that. The way he guides and leads the team, I see leadership in him. This is the guy we need for our development and he is a real idol for all of us.

It was relatively an easy win, did you expect that?

Everytime if you score, it looks simple but nothing is in the Hero ISL. To score seven goals is a hard job. We had a good week with a very good concentrated performance. We achieved a good result because of our investment in the last week. We are concentrated all the time and the games that we played before were very close. If we make the differences in these games, then we win. We will try to learn from the upcoming matches and I hope that we lift ourselves in the Hero ISL table. We have a target and that is to finish in the top six. We are not there and that’s why we have to be serious and keep going.

The results have not been consistent this season. Do you think it is related to the fixture schedule?

As I said, all eleven teams have a good squad set up. Here in India, I like the attitude and mentality of the players. To search for the right foreigners is a tough job and we need to have a good understanding between each other and grow together. And we need to survive some bad results. It hurts our development during the season but in total, I see a pretty good league. I like to follow the league. How the Hero ISL is presenting the games and it’s normal. We have to work differently..the most important thing is that we impress by playing good football. We have a balance with people like our owners.

Vita Dani, she is our owner and she will support us all the time, but she also has the desire to invest and support us more, then we play better. For that balance we have to go all together with a good standing in Asia. We need to grow up and be closer to other leagues.

What is your assessment of this NorthEast United FC side?

I met the former coach (Marco Balbul) on Friday and we spoke about the situation. NorthEast United FC began preparing late for the season, so it was very tough for him. (You need) to create a team with Indian players, they have some understanding and some qualities. They have good players and the new coach will figure out which players are able to go into the battle (on the field) and keep the atmosphere high. This is the most important thing. You need a good atmosphere in the team.. and motivate the players. I wish NorthEast United FC good luck for the match against FC Goa and I hope they win.

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