He spoke with ebullience when queried about his first ISL start for CFC. “I got a text message from coach (John Gregory) stating that I was part of his plans to feature in the game (against NEUFC). But I wasn’t given assurance of a berth in the starting 11. All I wanted was to get some game time to prove myself but I ended up playing the full match eventually,” said a cheerful Ganesh.
The defensive midfielder was grateful for the support he received from the fans during the match.
“Chants of my name kept reverberating in my ears during the course of the match. I feel blessed to have such onlookers who backed me even during my tough times (referring to not getting a single minute in the last season),” said the five-time-capped Indian international. When asked about the quality of football in Tamil Nadu, he replied, “We are no way behind in comparison to other territories.
All the players require is a good platform like ISL or I League to showcase their talents. Once there are ample opportunities, the state will surely flourish in the sport.” Coming from Vyasarpadi, Dhanpal Ganesh is a player budding footballers from Chennai can look up to. The Pune FC academy product has shared space with players such as Marco Materazzi, John Arne Riise and Inigo Calderon, who have made it count at the highest level.
“Not even in my d r e a m s did I think of playing alongside such legends. My main objective (when I started playing football) was to represent the Indian National team and I achieved it somehow in 2015,” said the 23-year-old.
He urges next generation football players to pay heed to what their instructors say. He added, “Keenly listen to your coach’s words. A football coach on the field is similar to a teacher in school.
Without my mentors, I wouldn’t have reached this level. When you respect the sport and play with complete commitment and hard work, things will automatically fall into place.”
CFC BECOMES FIRST ISL SIDE TO CLINCH 20 WINS
Chennaiyin FC became the first side in the Indian Super League history to register 20 wins after its clinical 2-0 victory over NorthEast United FC here last Thursday. The tally consists of 17 league victories and three playoff triumphs.
Former Chennaiyin head coach Marco Materazzi largely contributed to this feat, winning 19 of his 47 encounters with a win percentage of 40.4. He also led the team to the championship in the second edition of ISL, after being knocked out by Kerala Blasters in the semi-finals Season 1.
The MS Dhoni co-owned unit was in rampaging mode in Season 2, clinching seven of its 14 encounters which also included a run of four consecutive wins towards the business end of the league phase. The side also recorded seven and three wins in 2014 and 2016 editions respectively.
Current tactician John Gregory opened his victory tally against the ‘Highlanders’ in ISL 2017-18 after succumbing to a 3-0 thrashing at the hands of Sergio Lobera’s FC Goa earlier.