We must keep our feet on the ground: Chennaiyin FC head coach Thomas Brdaric

Chennaiyin FC are on a high after their win over ATK Mohun Bagan in their opening match of the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2022-23 season but head coach Thomas Brdaric has urged the players to remain humble and keep working on their strengths.

 

Chennaiyin FC face rivals Bengaluru FC in Chennai on Friday in a match that has always been high on intensity and with the fans returning, expect a new chapter to be written in this rivalry.

The German head coach praised Bengaluru FC for the quality that they possess and urged his team to take the field with a fighting mentality against the Durand Cup winners.

Brdaric and captain Anirudh Tapa addressed the media ahead of the match against Bengaluru FC.

Here are the excerpts from their press conference:

What is your take on the Bengaluru FC match?

Brdaric: We are back home and looking forward to meeting our fans. We closed the last game's chapter and Bengaluru FC are our next opponent. We are working to be mentally prepared, to build a physical foundation and to grow as a team. This is our aim and on Friday we have to be very well prepared to face them because Bengaluru FC is an experienced team and we have to compete with them for 90 plus minutes and the aim should be to win the match.

What is the situation with Rafa Crivellaro's fitness?

Brdaric: Crivellaro is not ready in terms of his fitness levels. We want to give him time. But we have other players as well. All players are the same for me and everyone should work on their fitness levels to be an important part of the club. Crivellaro has been an important part of this club in the past and I appreciate that but we are focussed on the Bengaluru FC match.

 

What is your impression of the first week in Hero ISL?

Brdaric: All games have been interesting. From our perspective, it was good to see fast counter-attacks which we were able to convert into goals. As far as the league is concerned, it is very balanced. Any team can beat the other team. You have to be prepared for all matches on a high level. You have to be prepared to work at a high intensity. What you need to do is beat the will of the opponent and nullify the strengths of the opponent. That's why we analyse our opponents very well and that's why we give our players all information that they should have. At the end of the day, we want to win our matches. The first match was already successful. We have to take care of the next match. We want to show that we can keep this level.

What are your thoughts on Bengaluru FC who also won their first match in the Hero ISL?

Brdaric: They have experienced players, they have fast players. We have to be very careful at the back. We should not let them overpower us. We have to defend as a team and we have to put them under pressure so that they are not able to play to their strength.

After beating ATK Mohun Bagan, you said you are not the favourites to win the Hero ISL. What is the thought behind this comment?

Brdaric: We are humble, we know what happened in the last two years. We also know what we are capable of and we are working hard to win our matches. We should take confidence out of our game. We need the will to win and sacrifice in all matches. We want to be a stable team and then we want to create chances. That's why we want to be with our feet on the ground, work hard and then we have to deserve our wins. I said we are not favourites because you can see the table in the last two seasons and where Chennaiyin FC have been. Yes, we have made some necessary changes. We have a lot of power in the team but we need to stay very balanced and not be overwhelmed with targets that we can't reach.

How is Abdenasser El Khayati doing? He joined the team late and what is the update on him?

Brdaric: Nasser needs a bit of time. We have to be careful with him that we don't put him under pressure as he hasn't had a lot of training. That's why we need other players on board. We have one more practice left and we will see which players are able to play against Bengaluru FC.

Anirudh Thapa has played in many positions over the years with Chennaiyin FC and the Indian national team. What according to you is his best position?

Brdaric: In my opinion, Thapa is a great guy with a lot of ability and potential. I won't say he is a player at his peak yet but he can go to the next level. I push him all the time. I don't need to tell him about his work all the time. He is ready all the time. He is a leader and he is working on that aspect. He is a very important player for our team. He is a player that is able to play in many positions and that's his strength. We will use his characteristics to our advantage but he should also look to improve all the time.

Here are the excerpts from Anirudh Thapa’s press conference:

What did you learn from the first game? And how do you plan to use the momentum from the victory?

Thapa: I think we want to be consistent with our performance. Obviously, the first game was against ATK Mohun Bagan. In the first half, we were quite slow, we were losing possession but in the second half, we came back pretty well. That's what we need to do during the full ninety minutes and if we keep the momentum going, we will have a pretty good season. The most important thing is that we need to be mentally strong and just follow the plan.

Do you think playing at home with the fans returning to the stadium will be an advantage for you against Bengaluru FC?

Thapa: Obviously, it's an advantage for us. After two seasons, we are back in the Marina Arena. We have seen in the past season, how home games give you an advantage. So it's a big thing for us that the fans are back.

What is your feeling going into the first home game of the season with fans back after two years?

Thapa: Obviously it's a good feeling to finally be back in Chennai with the home crowd. The last memory I have was the game against FC Goa, the atmosphere that was created that was great. I think the fans will come back with the same energy, and the same passion and that's what we are expecting from them. We will play for them as that's what this club is for. After two seasons when we have the chance to play in front of our fans, we will give our best.

Which is your best position?

Thapa: For me, I just want to play and if my coach wants me to play in different positions, I am ready for it. For me too it is a challenge to play in different positions to know the game better. It will just help me to grow in terms of football by playing in different positions. In the end, all you want is three points, so I just want to experience all the positions and help my team. 

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