With new coach and captain, Chennaiyin FC look to be title contenders again

Photo credit: Chennaiyin FC Facebook

Chennaiyin FC had a campaign to forget in the previous season of the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) as they finished eighth in the league standings with just 20 points. To turn things around this time out, the Marina Machans have brought in Montenegrin Bozidar Bandovic as their new manager, announced a new captain, and acquired five new overseas signings.

The veteran coach highlighted the team’s weaknesses in the past and laid emphasis on teamwork to win matches in the upcoming Hero ISL season. “I believe that we need to make coordination between the players and make them play in their preferred position so that they can give their best for the team,” he said in an interview with indiansuperleague.com.

With the experienced India international Anirudh Thapa being named as the skipper for the upcoming season, CFC will look to prosper under his guidance and mentality.

Tournament History

Chennaiyin might have struggled to compete at the top in the past few seasons, the former champions know what it takes to be champions. In the past seven seasons, the Chennai-based side have qualified four times for the semi-finals (2014, 2015, 2017-18, and 2019-20), they’ve made it to the finals thrice (2015, 2017-18, and 2019-20), and have been champions twice (2015 and 2017). Under Bandovic, they will look to bring back the heydays.

Players to watch out for

  • Anirudh Thapa

Thapa made his Hero ISL debut with Chennaiyin FC in the 2016 season. His consistent performances over time have made him a mainstay in the Indian national team since his first call-up in 2017.

The 23-year-old from Dehradun rose through the ranks, establishing himself as a starter for the Machans, who has now been handed the captaincy for the forthcoming season, ahead of experienced players.

  • Lallianzuala Chhangte

Chhangte played a key role in guiding CFC finishing runners-up in the 2019-20 season scoring seven times in that season.

The 24-year-old will look forward to making a major impact on this Chennaiyin side in hopes to win their third-ever ISL title.

  • Lukasz Gikiewicz

CFC’s new Polish signing, Lukasz Gikiewicz, has considerable playing experience, scoring 49 goals and providing 21 assists in 200 appearances.

Gikiewicz has also featured in the Europa League, one of the world’s biggest football tournaments. The 34-year-old will be eager to increase his goal tally in his debut ISL season with the Marina Machans.

Key Battle

The prominent South Indian derby has served as one of the best rivalries of the Hero ISL. The derby involving Kerala Blasters, Chennaiyin, and newcomers Bengaluru (who joined ISL in 2017) is one of the most awaited fixtures amongst the fans of all three clubs.

The Marina Machans have met the Blues on nine occasions, with Chhetri’s men getting the better of the Machans with 4 wins. CFC have been winless against Chhetri and Co in the last two seasons.

Against Kerala Blasters, the Chennai-based side beaten the Blasters six times with the two teams playing out draws on seven occasions.

CFC lock horns with Kerala Blasters on December 22, 2021 at the Tilak Maidan stadium followed by their game against Bengaluru FC on December 30, 2021 at the same venue.

Fixtures

Date

Fixture

Venue

23/11/2021

Hyderabad FC v/s Chennaiyin FC

Athletic Stadium, Bambolim

29/11/2021

NorthEast United FC v/s Chennaiyin FC

PJN Stadium, Fatorda

03/12/2021

Chennaiyin FC v/s SC East Bengal

Tilak Maidan Stadium

11/12/2021

ATK Mohun Bagan v/s Chennaiyin FC

PJN Stadium, Fatorda

15/12/2021

Mumbai City FC v/s Chennaiyin FC

PJN Stadium, Fatorda

18/12/2021

Chennaiyin FC v/s Odisha FC

Tilak Maidan Stadium

22/12/2021

Chennaiyin FC v/s Kerala Blasters FC

Tilak Maidan Stadium

30/12/2021

Chennaiyin FC v/s Bengaluru FC

Tilak Maidan Stadium

02/01/2022

Jamshedpur FC v/s Chennaiyin FC

Athletic Stadium, Bambolim

08/01/2022

FC Goa v/s Chennaiyin FC

Athletic Stadium, Bambolim

Squad

Goalkeepers: Samik Mitra, Vishal Kaith, Debjit Majumder, Devansh Dabas

Defenders: Reagan Singh, Salam Singh, Aquib Nawab, Balaji Ganesan, Davinder Singh, Edwin Vanspaul, Deepak Devrani, Jerry Lalrinzuala, Narayan Das, Slavko Damjanovic

Midfielders: Anirudh Thapa, Ariel Borysiuk, Germanpreet Singh, Ninthoinganba Meetei, Lallianzuala Chhangte, Rafael Crivellaro, Aman Chetri, Melroy Assisi, Subhadip Majhi

Forwards: Johnson Matthews, Rahim Ali, Mirlan Murzaev, Jobby Justin, Suhail Pasha, Vladimir Koman, Lukasz Gikiewicz

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