Eli Sabia: Chennaiyin fans’ affection motivates me to win trophies
After leading Chennaiyin FC to the final of Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2019-20, Brazilian defender Eli Sabia signed a contract extension with the two-time champions. Speaking about his decision to goal.com, Eli Sabia expressed his delight in playing for Chennaiyin while praising captain Lucian Goian for ably leading his team forward.
"(Lucian) Goian and I did a good job last season. He is a great player who helped the team and club a lot with his experience and leadership,” Sabia said. “I am happy to be able to play at Chennaiyin FC where everyone has always welcomed me. What motivates me to be at Chennaiyin is the affection of the fans for me and my family, and the desire I have to win a trophy with the club and make it a beautiful story."
Chennaiyin had an underwhelming 2018-29 Hero ISL season as they finished bottom on the table, having won the coveted title in 2017-18. Under former head coach John Gregory, the club could not turnaround their fortunes at the beginning of Hero ISL 2019-20, but the appointment of Owen Coyle came as a much need shot in the arm for the club.
"2018-19 was very difficult for everyone in the club. But in order to grow we sometimes have to go through difficulties to mature and value our achievements. So, in the 2019-20 season, we tried to improve in all aspects and in my point of view we had a season that made everyone proud,” Sabia said.
Speaking highly about Chennaiyin’s former head coach Coyle, Sabia said, "Owen is a great coach and a great man; it was an honour to work with him. I am happy that he remains in Indian football and contributes to football growing more and more. We are all professionals here. He has decided to change clubs, and we respect that and wish him well."
The latest edition of the Hero ISL is to be hosted in the state of Goa behind closed doors, with strict protocols to be followed. On this decision, Sabia opined, "It will be difficult to play away from our fans, but with this pandemic, you have no other option. We know that they will be accompanying us even from afar and spending all their energy and that will make us stronger."