Chennaiyin FC talisman Abdenasser El Khayati astonished everyone in his debut Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2022-23 season. Be it through his silky smooth dribbling or his finesse finishing, the Dutch-Moroccan dazzled whenever he took the field for the Marina Machans.

The midfielder had 14 goal contributions for his side comprising nine goals and five assists. He was on the leaderboard for most number of goals and also joint-topped the assists charts alongside defender Aakash Sangwan. Highly influential in the attacking build-up, El Khayati was one of the key reasons in the side’s goalscoring exploits as CFC scored 36 goals, joint-second alongside Hyderabad FC and FC Goa.

“I think that’s very positive that we scored a lot of goals. The only thing is you have to concede lesser and continue the same regarding the scoring,” said El Khayati to Sportstar.

Missing a major chunk of the games due to injury, the absence of El Khayati was a piece of jigsaw the two-time Hero ISL champions were missing, as the side lost 11 points from winning positions. Having joined the Chennaiyin FC camp later than most of the players, the midfielder stated it as one of the reasons for his unavailability for the games.

“I joined in October when the team was already three months into pre-season (training). That is where you get the platform, you get physically strong. I try to be as fit as possible, which I am now, because I’m training and doing everything that I’m well prepared for,” he added.

Having already joined the huddle in Kerala, the Marina Machans will take on NorthEast United FC on April 11 in the upcoming Hero Super Cup campaign featuring Mumbai City FC and the winner of the Qualifier 4 (Real Kashmir FC vs Churchill Brothers) alongside them in Group D. The 34-year-old was positive about his side’s prospects in the Hero Super Cup.

“We have a good chance to do well and even win. The good thing about the Super Cup is the momentum. It’s just one game, just 90 minutes. It’s another pressure, it’s another type of game. It’s not like in the league where you can still do your strategy and tactical stuff and wait for the next week to improve. There is no time for that now. We have 90-95 minutes to win the game, and that’s it,” he commented.

A newcomer to Indian football and Hero ISL, head coach Thomas Brdaric has taken brisk steps to understand the cultural dynamics and has slightly tuned his style of football in that manner. In the broader picture, his philosophy of football has received a tremendous amount of love from the Chennaiyin FC supporters.

Having constant back and forth communication with the German, El Khayati commented on his relationship with the head coach. “He talks a lot about things outside of football. I think it’s important that as a coach, you speak with the players.”

Speaking on the new assistant coach Raman Vijayan, he said: “It’s a little bit early to have a total picture about Raman. But from what I’ve seen until now, he’s more analytical, and observative,” he said.

“When he speaks, he says something very good. In the sense, he’s waiting, waiting, waiting (observing), and then he’s saying something which is of great value for us,” he concluded.