The two-time ISL champion will come up against Jamshedpur FC (JFC) – which has ex-Chennaiyin boss Owen Coyle at the helm – before locking horns with southern rivals Kerala Blasters FC (KBFC) and Bengaluru FC (BFC). Three crucial battles in front of him, CFC head coach Csaba Laszlo is keen on getting off the blocks as quickly as possible.
“It is absolutely important for us to start on a positive note and gain momentum with wins. We will try our best to do that. We should not be playing catch up later on. I have been mentioning it time and again to the boys,” Romanian-Hungarian Laszlo told DT Next.
But, it is easier said than done as the manager and his support staff have had little time to prepare the players for a gruelling season. However, Laszlo – who completed his mandatory 14-day quarantine only on November 7 – is pleased with how things have panned out so far.
“Since the time my coaching staff and I started working, the pre-season has been really good. We are building a good connection both on and off the pitch. Having spent time together on the field, we are gearing up for our first game against JFC,” said the 56-year-old.
“Before arriving in India and during quarantine, we conducted regular Zoom calls to get to know each other and discuss about ISL.”
Most of the Chennaiyin players – both domestic and overseas – joined the pre-season camp following an extended period away from the green blades of grass. Although CFC’s opener – on November 24 – is around the corner, Laszlo admitted that the team is still not in the pink of health.
“The players will need time to be at their absolute best in terms of match sharpness. We will see how it goes when they are in match situations. We will see how they react in the heat of the moment,” he added.
‘A wonderful first experience in India’
Having coached in eight different countries – including a couple of national teams – Laszlo has been a globetrotter. But, the seventh edition of ISL is his first-ever assignment in Asia.
Talking about his stay in India, the Chennaiyin gaffer said: “The experience has been wonderful so far, even within the bio-secure bubble. The club staff, management, hotel staff and everyone else in Goa have been helping us and ensuring that our stay is comfortable. It is now time to get down to work.”
MEN WHO MATTER
- Head coach: Csaba Laszlo
- Assistant coaches: Admir Kozlic and Syed Sabir Pasha
- Goalkeeping coach: Martin Raska
- Sports scientist: Csaba Gabris
- Goalkeepers: Vishal Kaith, Karanjit Singh, Samik Mitra and BY Revanth
- Defenders: Jerry Lalrinzuala, Lalchhuanmawia ‘Chhuantea’ Fanai, Eli Sabia, Enes Sipovic, Deepak Tangri, Reagan Singh and Remi Aimol
- Midfielders: Memo Moura, Edwin Sydney Vanspaul, Dhanpal Ganesh, Germanpreet Singh, Anirudh Thapa, Sinivasan Pandiyan, Abhijit Sarkar, Rafael Crivellaro, Fatkhulo Fatkhulloev, Lallianzuala Chhangte and Thoi Singh
- Forwards: Jakub Sylvestr, Esmael ‘Isma’ Goncalves, Aman Chetri and Rahim Ali