Chennaiyin FC head coach Thomas Brdaric is highly motivated to get maximum points when they host NorthEast United FC in the final game of the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, in Chennai, on Friday.

The two-time Hero ISL champions are on the verge of an eighth-place finish for the third season in a row. Brdaric admits it was a tough season for them as he evaluates the performance of his side ahead of their final league game.

“It was a long and hard passing road. We faced a lot of ups and downs but now I see the team learn from their doings. It was hard to have won in a row and we can be happy with the development but still can't be pleased with the situation. We are in the eighth place and it’s a clear sign that we have to improve,” Brdaric said in the pre-match press conference.

Even if Chennaiyin FC secure full points from their last game, they will end up with 27 points, three points adrift of the playoffs spot. The German head coach feels his side has failed to capitalise on their chances and says the equation would’ve been different if they’d earned some points against some of the best teams.

“We had a lot of opportunities, but we missed a few. This is what we have to be better at in the future. In the future, there will be situations like this; we have to be prepared to face them. How much a player wants to invest for the future: this is the question,” Brdaric stated.

“Not everything was bad. We were very competitive with all the ISL teams. When I look back, I can see which teams we had positive and negative stats against. Only against Mumbai, we didn't take points and even in those matches, we had our chances,” he added.

“This gives me a pretty good feeling about the next step. Everybody wants to improve and give something back to the investments we have made," Brdaric continues.

The Marina Machans thumped NorthEast United FC 7-3 in the reverse fixture but the Highlanders have come a long way since then and have improved their gameplay a lot. The 48-year-old affirms they’re not up to any special preparation for this game and remains hopeful of finishing the season on a positive note.

“The preparation is not different just because they’ve improved. We're professionals and we want to inflict this on the field on Friday in front of our fans. It's a challenge for us to face them because NorthEast United FC have improved in their last few matches. They had some good spells in the games but we're playing at our home so we are very motivated to get three points,” opined Brdaric.

Chennaiyin FC’s problem went deeper with the poor form of Anirudh Thapa. The Indian international has only scored once in 15 appearances this season. Brdaric sees a lot of potential in the midfielder and believes he will get back to his best very soon.

“He is a national (team) player who has potential. We have (put up) a lot of loads on his shoulders and he didn't play mostly on his position. He helped the team with his ability and I'm proud that he never complained. But of course, he can also not be really satisfied with the general performance,” he said.

Chennaiyin FC will be without their star players Petar Sliskovic and Nasser El Khayati against NorthEast United FC due to injury. The head coach asserts injury issues won’t be a problem for his side because they’ve got a balanced squad to replace the injured players.

“We have some injuries. Sometimes it's painful to have those but this is normal in football and we have to deal with that. We handled that (injuries) pretty well in the past. Nasser (El Khayati) and Peter Sliskovic are very important players (for us) but everybody is replaceable in this team,” Brdaric stated.

Brdaric reaffirmed his desire to stay with the Marina Machans and believes he has more objectives to fulfil at this club.

“Yes,” answered the head coach when quizzed about his future with the club in the next season.

“I liked to be here. I feel the support. It’s important to deliver. I don't want to waste time here. In the future, I want to win trophies, win games and grow. If everybody has this understanding, we can get successful in the next season. But next season is far away. We have objectives for Friday's match plus the Super Cup,” Brdaric added.

Striker Kwame Karikari accompanied head coach Brdaric in the pre-match press conference and summed up his journey in the Hero Indian Super League so far.

“Coming to India was a new opportunity for me. The season has been (full of) ups and downs with injuries and setbacks. I’m still working hard with the coach, pushing myself every day to be at the level with the team every time because I was always stepping back because of injuries. But now I'm back on the field and have the feeling to play and show my abilities and what I can do for the team and help the team. So far it's not the best season for me but I'm looking forward to the future,” Karikari stated.

The 31-year-old has three goals and one assist to his name so far and is eager to contribute more to his team in the coming matches. He believes he still has room for improvement and is working hard on his match fitness.

“Injuries are also a part of the game. You just have to push yourself and work harder and get back on the field. For now, I'm very strong and ready to prepare for the last game which is tomorrow. The energy is very positive with the team and after tomorrow we'll start preparing for the Super Cup,” he concluded.