At Chennaiyin FC, expectations are always high: Coach Bozidar Bandovic ahead of opening match

Chennaiyin FC coach Bozidar Bandovic has said that the team needs more time to gel as an unit but says his team will not lower their ambitions despite the difficulties the team is facing ahead of their Hero Indian Super League (ISL) opener against Hyderabad FC on Tuesday.

Having finished in eighth position last season, the Marina Machans have made major reinforcement to their roster. Coach Bozidar Bandovic has also arrived in the summer and will look to restore the club's glory days.

Ahead of their opening game of the season, the Montenegrin manager interacted with the media in a press conference ahead of their opening game.

Here are the excerpts from the pre-match press conference:

How do you think the team has shaped in the pre-season and how ready are you for the upcoming games?

If you ask me at the start, If I was happy with the conditions of the players, then no, because of not playing long (pre-season) and because of the quarantine. But, we are in one level and we are ready to play. But, we have to improve in the next period. I am happy of what we did physically, tactically, as a team, as a group we made good communication between us.

You are coaching in India for the first time. What are the challenges you’ve faced so far?

First of all, the club and I tried very hard to bring the players together in a very short period. We have brought in many new players and this is the challenge that we have, with the club and players have tried to bring everyone together to make a team, to make a group. So, this is the challenge, there are many players, many new foreigners who need to adapt, in the eight weeks we were working together.

And of course, in football, nobody doesn't wait. They need results and this is my job and we will do our best with the difficulties we have, with the training, to get results, to make a good start. This is one difficult challenge, because if you get the team from the last season, only changing three-four players is different, but this a new process, a new start. We are going to have pressure and we are going to handle this for sure.

Have you set any special targets for the season?

In my coaching career, we go game by game. So for us, the most important thing is the first game tomorrow. After that, we can think about the next ones. Of course, this club has set the targets by themselves. When you come in a team which has been champions, it’s always high targets and high expectations. We want to go game by game and be in the top-four.

What are your assessments of Chennaiyin FC’s Indian players this season. Do you think they can make a difference in the upcoming season?

First of all, for all the national team players, like Thapa and others, I believe they can improve because they have quality and they have space to improve. We are working with the younger players, they are great characters and the way they train and the way they handle things in the training. When they grow up, I hope some of them will be national team players. They can learn, they can improve and I am here with them to help them improve.

With most of Chennaiyin FC’s foreigners having played their football in European leagues, how have they acclimatized with the humid conditions in Goa?

First of all, they are new in this country. I chose them because they are great characters and personalities. They have adapted very well and they have adapted as a group and I also believe that the staff and the domestic players are helping them. But, at this moment, I think, they have adapted very well, they’re fine. 

Anirudh Thapa, the newly appointed captain of Chennaiyin FC, was present in the press conference, addressed the media as well.

For the first time, you will be taking the field as the captain of Chennaiyin FC? Do you feel there’s an extra responsibility on your shoulder, especially to set an example for the young players?

Everyone has to guide the younger players, not only me. Every player who is experienced, he guides the younger players and obviously the other players as well, because that’s how we will improve. That’s how every player will improve, helping each other on and off the field. I’ll try and do the same with everyone, whether it’s a young player or any other player and so will they, if I am doing anything wrong. So, it’s the same for everyone.

How do you think the team has gelled up in the pre-season?

Obviously, like, I was not there in the first few weeks, but when I came back, the team was doing really well. We had a couple of friendly games and what the coach asked us to do, what he was expecting, we tried that and we are improving in that. And obviously, we will try and improve game by game.

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