Chennaiyin FC head coach Thomas Brdaric believes the fans can identify with the club’s brand of football and that is a “good feeling” as the two-time Hero Indian Super League (ISL) champions prepare to face FC Goa at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, in Chennai, on Friday.

Chennaiyin FC have had an unbeaten start to the Hero ISL 2022-23 season so far, with a win and a draw from their opening two matches. Brdaric, who attended the pre-match press conference alongside defender Narayan Das, said he was eager for the challenge against the Gaurs. The German also spoke about his squad, his philosophy, and more. 

Also read: Goals, records and heart-breaks: The Chennaiyin FC vs FC Goa rivalry in numbers

Here are the excerpts from Brdaric’s press conference:  

Your thoughts on FC Goa and their strengths?

I'm looking forward to the match. FC Goa has some strengths and we analyse them in a professional way - their players, their strengths and weaknesses. We have to fulfil the challenge and it will be a good one. They want to play football.

How is the squad gelling as a unit?

We are still in the process. We are still building a team, we are not finished. I told the players, from the beginning to the end, it's a long road (ahead). We have to fulfil our strengths, abilities and the desire to learn from our experiences. In the last match (against Bengaluru FC) I was a bit disappointed because we took a point. The result could have gone in a different direction. We have four points in our account after two games and it's not bad. We have to pursue our target with this energy and intensity and work on a high level. This is what we want.

What is your philosophy like? Do you like your players to enjoy a little more freedom or do you want them to follow instructions to the T?

We have a good balance in the team and we want to play our football. We want to recognise the strengths, the abilities, the quality of the players and show it to everybody that we are a team. That is our objective which we want to show in all the games.

Debjit Majumder is unavailable against FC Goa? Have you decided who will play against FC Goa?

We have five goalkeepers. We have a big squad, but Devansh Dabas will play against FC Goa. Debjit sacrificed (his position) against Bengaluru FC with a red card. For me, he made a good decision (to clear the ball against Roy Krishna) with his hand and to ensure that we didn't struggle with zero points (had Krishna scored). He took the responsibility and I'm very happy. I'm sure Devansh will play at a good level and keep a clean sheet.

What has impressed you about Devansh?

I like his attitude. He's a good guy, and a professional goalkeeper who can play at a high level. He's good with his feet and he will help us to play an open game. He will have to ensure we don't struggle in building up (from the back) like the last time. I have hopes in him.

Any injury concerns for your side?

First of all, we have a tremendous squad and we have to make use of all players, this is our idea. It's a good challenge and from the first day, we wanted all players to be on this journey with us and use it to our advantage.

The game against FC Goa is one step along the long way and we want to take all the fit players. We want to show that we are a unit and try out all players. Vincy (Barretto) along with (Mohammad) Rafique, are back in training and they are looking good. Everybody is motivated to be a part (of the playing eleven), but they also have to be patient. We have been working together for almost four months and we have to prepare for the battle. Nasser El Khayati could have got some minutes (against Bengaluru FC), but it was too early for him (to be included in the squad). Mentally, the players have to be prepared for the challenges at a high level. 

Your thoughts on the fans?

Last week, we had a taste of the fans and I liked it so much. It was good to play in front of our fans after a long time. We anticipate a big crowd for the game against FC Goa. The spark (from the fans), resonates to the players. From the stands to the pitch and vice versa. This is the most important thing. We feel fans identify with our style of play and it's a good feeling.

In both our games, the start was a little slow, but eventually we recovered. What conversations have you had with the players to avoid that going forward?

We have to work out why we are struggling in the beginning. It could be due to lack of concentration. We have to prevent this and deny the opponent spaces to be able to score. And lastly, the players have to be attentive from the beginning. We have to work on this during the training before the match. We also have to understand that when the kick-off whistle blows, we have to be at our 100 percent and not below that.

You had a team talk after the game against Bengaluru FC. What did you tell your players?

We want to inflict defeat on all our opponents and during the ninety minutes, there's so much happening. We have to embrace the challenge, to implement and execute our plans in the game. We have to play on the high level from the beginning and not to start with any kind of weakness and show our opponents that we have weaknesses at all. We don't have to give the opponent spaces (to attack). We have to show the belief in our game that we will be able to win the match. We have to show all the time from the beginning that there can be only one winner and that is CFC. The message was clear that we have to start very attentively from the beginning till the end. Including the substitutes, who have to be ready. This was the message to the team.

Here are the excerpts from Das' press conference:

It's a long league. How do you keep yourself physically and mentally fit?

We have coaches and the staff who guide us well in terms of our recovery, practice, diet. We are professionals and know our responsibilities. We have to maintain a balance with the workload as professionals when it comes to training.

Tactically, have you changed your game a bit according to the coaches needs?

We have to play the way the coach wants us to. But players have to take responsibility on the pitch as they have to make the decisions. It all depends on the situations in the game.

Watch the full-press conference here.