It is difficult, but not an impossible scenario: Chennaiyin FC head coach Sabir Pasha on qualifying for semi-finals

Chennaiyin FC head coach Sabir Pasha is confident that they will arrive with a positive framework and a newfound approach against Odisha FC in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2021-22 match on Wednesday at the Tilak Maidan Stadium.

The club recorded its biggest loss in the Hero ISL, in the last match against FC Goa, losing 5-0. However, with qualification for semi-finals starting to look difficult, Pasha wants Chennaiyin FC to keep trying.

Pasha addressed the media during the pre-match press conference ahead of Wednesday’s game.

Here are the excerpts from the press conference:

How do you prepare against Odisha FC?

We have to be strong, they are a very good attacking side. They have some good players to do the damage. So I think if you can stop that, I think we'll be fine. We can come out with the result. But the only problem is that we have to be strong in our defence, in the midfield as well as in our defensive third.

What can we expect from your side? What will your philosophy be?

It's a very short time to put all your philosophies inside. So I think we have to be sensible at this point in time. Like you when you change things, we have to think about many things, what is the status of the players, how they are in, what state they're in. Keeping that in mind it's a challenge.

According to that, we have to mould and that is the quality of the coach, what we have to do. And that is the challenge for the coach. And I think what we are trying to do is try to get the best out of the players rather than fixing our philosophies and other things. Once I think our players do their maximum and come to their best, then we will be a strong side.

Do you think 3-5-2 is a suitable formation for Chennaiyin FC?

Normally as you see all the best coaches say once the ball rolls on the field then everything changes according to the ball. Like even if you put the formation then you have to adjust to that. But it depends upon the confidence of the coach, what he feels right for the team, like it differs from coach to coach, what they think and their confidence. It is difficult to change the confidence of the coach. So in that way, I think 3-5-2 went well. Sometimes it didn't work.

Although it is mathematically possible for CFC to qualify for the playoffs, it's extremely difficult. So how do you motivate the players in a situation like this when there is no set target?

You're right, you're practical. Also, the thing is like it's a difficult scenario, it's not an impossible scenario. But the first thing is like as you come to know the confidence of the players have to come on the field, their natural ability should come on the field. That will be the first challenge.

That was the first task which I have to set right. Once I do that that everything will fall and that that is where I think we have to concentrate and we have to get the best out of the players whatever they have. If you don't get the best, I think everybody will suffer.

Are you going to continue 3-5-2? Are are are we going to see a different formation tomorrow?

I can promise you one thing is that my approach will be to go positive for this match, it will be very strong and there will be changes in whatever we do and I feel that and I hope and I pray that you all like our approach in the way we go into this match.

What was your expectation initially on the young Indian players, like you can say Rahim Ali and also others, how are you impressed with their performance this season and what are you looking forward to in the upcoming matches?

Every player has been giving their best. I think we are happy with the players but they have been trying their best, that they are giving their everything on the field. Even whether it is 5-3-2 or 4-4-1-1 or whatever it is like when we played I think I don't have any complaints with the players. They have been giving their best. So we expect the same thing with the players in the coming matches and we hope they do their best.

Do you think the current CFC squad has the quality to reach the semifinals?

There is not much difference when you compare the quality of the players, when it comes to the other teams. I think I've been telling them also, like there is no big difference, there is a difference but not big. So I think we also have a talented site.

We also have talented players. It is how you bring out the talent and how you make them comfortable on the field where they would like to do their best and that is more important. And sometimes I think we have played some players in their uncomfortable zone where they didn't feel well and that has backfired at us sometimes but I think if we can set this right, I think the talent wise we are not short.

Do you think CFC should be fighting for the semifinals?

Yes, we have to. If you could have seen all the matches, except the last match, we played like every other team, even SC East Bengal, you see the way they are playing, NorthEast United FC, the way they are playing. I think it's a very close contest with all the teams. If there is not much big difference, it is the days like the chances you get you to take it, then it is your day, that is how it's going. So I think we were not far away from being in the top four.

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