Local players will be a part of Chennaiyin this season: Abhishek

Abhishek Bachchan is not just the actor for Chennaites now as he has put the city on the football map as his club, Chennaiyin FC as emerged champions of the second edition of the Indian Super League.
Local players will be a part of Chennaiyin this season: Abhishek
Abhishek Bachchan

Chennai

While Chennaiyin FC were the last team to be inducted in the football league, they had to play without local players in the first season. Things looked better in the second season when Chennai-boy Dhanpal Ganesh was drafted into the team but an ankle injury meant Ganesh had to watch all games confined to the changing room.
The actor-owner promised that his team is working hard behind the scenes to include more local players. “We would love to have home-grown players. We had Ganesh but he couldn’t play due to an injury. We have signed Syed Sabir Pasha (who is from Chennai) as our assistant coach and he heads our grassroots programme too. He is a huge asset and he would be instrumental in scouting for local talent. I have heard a lot about the local league. It is just a matter of time before we have names on our sheet,” Abhishek said. 
Abhishek added that they are going in advanced talks with fan-favourite Stiven Mendoza and coach Marco Materazzi in bringing them back to Chennaiyin. “We would love to have Mendo and Marco back. Mendoza is an integral part of our squad. We are happy that he is doing well with New York FC in the MLS (Major League Soccer). We are trying our best to get him back,” he added. 
With NorthEast United FC signing Chennaiyin’s Mailson Alves, the actor said his team isn’t regretting over it. “We unfortunately couldn’t retain him. I have immense faith in our scouts to find an able replacement for Alves. He was a wonderful player. 
We look forward to welcoming him back to the Nehru Stadium. He will be welcomed with a lot of love off the pitch and will be shown none on it,” Abhishek laughed. With Chennaiyin FC becoming an instant hit with the fans, the junior Bachchan had gone a step ahead in introducing his kabaddi team – Jaipur Pink Panthers to the sports lovers of the city – his second home, as he calls it. “The city has given me so much love and support. I wanted to move Pink Panthers’ pre-season out of Jaipur and without doubt Chennai had to be the destination.  
What is heartning being, the city has accepted them too. I saw people taking selfies with the kabaddi players in the mall too. The people are in the know of the sport and it is lovely,” the 40-year-old actor said. Pink Panthers won the inaugural season of the Pro-Kabbadi League but went on a downward spiral in the successive seasons and the team owner said it wasn’t due to the pressure of expectations. “I would say, we were unlucky. The players picked up a lot of injuries and towards the end of the league phase, we were playing with a squad that was just 10% fit. These things do happen in sport and we had the time to regroup and rethink our strategies for the new season,” he added.
CHENNAI-YIL favourites
Likes: People
Dislikes: Heat
Food: Mysur Pak
Place: Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium
Best memory: Coming back with the ISL trophy
Worst memory: The December floods
Best friend: Gaurav Goenka. He was my classmate

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