I always want to play and I'm here to do something: Chennaiyin FC's El Khayati
Over the years, the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) has seen samba skills of Brazil, tiki-taka of Spain, and physical football of England. Of late, the Hero ISL has been blessed with players of Moroccan descent and their eye-catching football. Hugo Boumous of ATK Mohun Bagan and Ahmed Jahouh of Mumbai City FC now have two more companies in the likes of Noah Sadaoui and Abdenasser El Khayati from FC Goa and Chennaiyin FC respectively.
Chennaiyin FC have suffered a lot for the past two seasons due to lack of a creative midfielder. The arrival of Abdenasser El Khayati, who played in Eredivisie, has been touted as a panacea for their creative problems. El Khayati scored his first goal in the Hero ISL in his first start against Mumbai City FC. Though Chennaiyin FC lost after leading 2-0 up, he showed some glimpses of his brilliance.
In his previous game, when Jamshedpur FC equalized against Chennaiyin FC, the home fans were expecting a bad deja vu again but this time El Khayati rescued the team as a super sub. Within 15 seconds into the field, the midfielder gave an inch perfect assist to Vincy Barretto and eight minutes later, he bagged himself a goal by twisting and turning the opposition defenders and goalkeeper.
The Marina Machans' new midfield magician spoke to the media reporters after his team's first home win. He explained what his thought process was before the substitution, link-up play with Julius Duker, and a lot more.
You came on as a substitute and immediately made an impact in the game? What was your mindset at that time?
Well, I am very disappointed and upset that I didn't start. But what can I do? It's professional football. You have to accept the coach's decision. And then you can do only one thing, when you come inside, try to be the difference. Today, the luck was on my side with some qualities. Sometimes it will be like this and sometimes not. The relief after the first home win was the most important (thing).
The coach said that it was not easy to tell you that you are not going to start today. What was the kind of conversation you had with the coach?
You can't compare me with anyone in India, not regarding the quality, but in terms of the desire to play. I always want to play. My character is like that. Lots of foreign players come to India and they think they come for the money. No, I (have) come (to India) to do something. Today is one of those days that I can show myself. This is my plan, to do something more than (just) be on the bench. Some foreigners are living it easier than me but I always wanted to play but if I don't play, I accept the (coach's) decision.
You already seem to have a good relationship with Julius (Duker). How does that work, do you have a good relationship off the pitch as well?
If you have a good link up, things automatically will be easier in the game. In the game, there is a lot of pressure, tiredness. If you have a good link up, you don't need to think too much, and you don't need to speak with each other, everything comes automatically. Duker gave me a good ball, but he told me if I don't scream that loudly that he won't give me (the ball), because (of that) I was screaming like hell.
We have six good foreigners. All are good. Karikari didn't come (on) against Jamshedpur FC but he could also be dangerous. We have seen that against ATK Mohun Bagan. We all need each other this whole season. We have just finished six games and 14 more games to play to finish in the top six and see where we can go from there.
Two matches, two goals but you told before that you aren't happy about the goal as the team lost, but in this game, both happened. How was the feeling?
Yes, finally, I am enjoying it even more, but even in the last week we can take some positives out of the Mumbai City FC game. They are one of the bigger teams, as you could see in the first 30 minutes, we could compete with them, in fact we were 2-0 up. (We) just need some more experience in certain periods of game, to keep the ball better so they aren't dangerous and kill the game, and then you can even beat Mumbai city FC. However, as you said I was not happy (after the match), the goal has no value (if the team doesn't win), so you have to win.
Even in this match, if I didn't score and the team wins, I would be happy because I know what these three points are doing. I am not saying this for fun, but you guys only see the game, but we are training and traveling every day. There are lots of hardships and hard training, so when you win, it's like a medicine, everyone will be happy and that's what we want.