Indian Super League: Carry On Chennaiyin FC

After conceding three goals in the first half of its opening game against FC Goa in the Indian Super League 2017-18, Chennaiyin FC feared the season would be a repeat of the underwhelming run it had under Italian manager Marco Materazzi in 2016.
Indian Super League: Carry On Chennaiyin FC
The 25-man Chennaiyin FC squad for the ISL Season 5 was recently announced


But it turned out to the exact opposite, a replication of the success the Chennai-based franchise enjoyed during the ISL 2015. Despite being a goal down in the final in Bengaluru, John Gregory’s men delivered their best when it mattered the most and became only the second team to win the coveted trophy twice.
Holder CFC is expected to encounter a few obstacles during its title defence, but the side has what it takes to do it all over again. Karanjit Singh is likely to be the side’s first-choice glove man, having kept seven clean sheets in the previous edition. New recruits Nikhil Bernard and Sanjiban Ghosh will deputise in the absence of the India international.  
Having started with three at the back in its opener in ISL 2017-18, Chennaiyin reverted to the traditional system of fielding four defenders for the rest of the season. Mailson Alves and Henrique Sereno kept the opposition strikers at bay, forging a deadly central defensive combination. As Sereno has not returned to the team for the upcoming season, Brazilian Eli Sabia will partner Mailson in the heart of the defence. Sabia, who represented the ‘Marina Machans’ in 2016, will have big boots to fill as he has been signed as an out and out replacement for Sereno. Meanwhile, Mailson will wear the captain’s armband, having been an integral part of two title-winning campaigns.
Jerry Lalrinzuala and Inigo Calderon are expected to complete the four-man defensive unit. While Jerry has forced his way to become the side’s No.1 left back, 36-year-old Inigo was adjudged the ‘Fittest player of the season’ last edition. With the quota for overseas players reduced to seven, CFC saw the departure of two creative midfielders in Rene Mihelic and Jaime Gavilan. But the side is bolstered by the signing of Andrea Orlandi, a player who can feature in six different positions, according to Gregory. Raphael Augusto will continue to pull the strings in midfield alongside Anirudh Thapa. Despite having a slow start, Gregory Nelson caught the eye by bursting in the left flank, keeping the opponents on their toes. He will hope to better his stats and so will fellow winger Francisco Fernandes. The Goan-based lad has been going about his business silently and has earned huge praise from the head coach. As Dhanpal Ganesh is set to miss the first half of the ISL 2018-19, new recruit Pandiyan Sinivasan will be the only local lad to watch out for in the initial few games. Jeje Lalpekhlua, fondly referred to as the ‘Mizo Sniper’, will lead the forward line.
After having a lean patch in the league matches, Jeje made his presence felt in the play-off stages, contributing at crucial junctures. Palestinian Carlos Salom and Mohammed Rafi are the other names the manager can turn to when the side is in need for goals. CFC opens its ISL campaign against BFC on Sunday. 
Head coach: John Gregory
Goalkeepers: Karanjit Singh, Nikhil Bernard and Sanjiban Ghosh
Defenders: *Eli Sabia, Hendry Antonay, *Inigo Calderon, Jerry Lalrinzuala, Laldinliana Renthlei, *Mailson Alves, Tondonba Singh and Zohmingliana Ralte
Midfielders: *Andrea Orlandi, Anirudh Thapa, Bedashwor Singh, Francisco Fernandes, Germanpreet Singh, *Gregory Nelson, Thoi Singh, Pandiyan Sinivasan, *Raphael Augusto, Zonunmawia and Isaac Vanmalsawma
Forwards: *Carlos Salom, Jeje Lalpekhlua and Mohammed Rafi

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