Chennaiyin FC interim head coach Syed Sabir Pasha has recognised areas of improvement for the club, giving an insight into how they will prepare for the next season while promising a ‘formidable’ side to bounce back in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL).

Ahead of the match against the ATK Mohun Bagan on Thursday, Pasha stated in the pre-match press conference that they will continue to play with the same intensity and positive approach despite losing out in the qualification race.

Although, Chennaiyin FC can continue to influence the final phase of the league stage if they were to defeat ATK Mohun Bagan who are currently positioned third with 34 points, paving way for Mumbai City FC and Kerala Blasters FC who are stationed fourth and fifth respectively.

Here are the excerpts from the press conference:

How do you evaluate this season’s performance? And what will be your approach against ATK Mohun Bagan?

If you want to ask me the summary of this year, then, the results show that we have not done well and there are many departments where we have to improve. Especially, in defence and we can’t concede so many goals. In this league, if you concede goals, it is always difficult to come back. We have shown sometimes that despite conceding we have come back but the bigger margins are always difficult. There were some loopholes this year which we have now identified and we have to strengthen that. Once we do that, we’ll be a better unit next year.

When it comes to the match against ATK Mohun Bagan, we approach with a positive note. We know ATK Mohun Bagan will come all out, they are a good side and are scoring goals consistently and are in form. They are trying to win the championship or get a place in the top four. It is a very difficult match for us but we have an approach and we will go ahead with it. We will give our best in the match.

Can we expect a change in players in the starting XI?

There will be some changes but they will not be big because we will be approaching the game in a direct way as we are going to get some points out of it.

How much improvement have you seen within the Indian players?

The youngsters in the league, such as Ninthoi or Suhail, they have been coming in regularly and making appearances. (Rahim) Ali has shown great progress. We know he is a strong player but he needs more of composure and he has to play more matches. We have seen that Ali, when he starts, is a different players, than when he comes on as a substitute. All those things, he has to cope up with. He has shown some good signs but at the same time he knows where he has to work on. These youngsters have shown promise and they’ll improve once they get more match time.

If you ask about the ISL, most of the Indian players this year have shown what they are capable of, and since most of them are getting chance due to the four-foreigner rule, that has helped in progress as they are learning a lot more for players alongside them.

What kind of players will Chennaiyin FC target next season, to strengthen their side?

The most important thing we lacked in our team was speed. We don’t have that pace in the midfield where we could inject it. In the final part as well. We had problems in most places and once we sort that out, I think we will on the right track. We need  some strong players who can show some eagerness to go along with the flow.

What are the positives you take from this season?

Even when the season was not going well for us, normally the players will not be in a good mood but the team stood well even in the losses. In every match, it will be difficult for the coach to field a team after so many losses, but the boys showed character and they are trying to give their best.

Chennaiying FC have scored the fewest goals this season, how do you look to improve on that?

We were not defensively good, so we had to strengthen ourselves defensively. And accordingly we had to set our formation which doesn’t suit us but we had to play that way. We kept on receiving goals which didn’t allow us to go up, and once we went up, you could see we had problems in the back. In the last two matches, we created chances but we were unlucky to convert them. The basic problem is defensive part.

Will Chennaiyin FC focus on signing younger players next season or go with experience?

We have to have a formidable side, a side which will come back. It is not about youngsters, it is who we can play and who can match this level, that is the question. We will search for those players and we will see that we come with a formidable side next year.