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Season would be incomplete if CFC doesn’t clinch title: Valskis
When Lithuanian livewire Nerijus Valskis inked a deal with Chennaiyin FC in July last year, doubts were cast on his ability to adapt to the Indian way of football.
However, the attacker has shut the mouths of his detractors by taking to the Indian Super League (ISL) like a duck to water. The CFC striker did have a lean patch by his own standards at the beginning of the ongoing campaign but burst to life under manager Owen Coyle, leading the line with laudable performances.
The 32-year-old has so far netted 14 times this season, remaining central to the turnaround of Chennaiyin, which braces for the summit contest against ATK at the Fatorda Stadium in Goa on Saturday. Having crossed all but the last hurdle, Valskis, known for constantly creating chaos in the opposition box, is keen on getting the job done for CFC.
“We have come this far, so we are not going to be satisfied if we don’t clinch the title. There is also the added motivation of becoming the first club to win three ISL crowns. What we have done to get here will only motivate us; we must not get complacent. We are charged and ready for the final,” Valskis toldDT Next from Goa.
His second stint in Asia after a spell at Ratchaburi FC (Thailand) in 2018, the centre-forward has enjoyed a dream debut in ISL.
But, the holder of 26 international caps remarked his mission would be unaccomplished if CFC doesn’t go on to bag the trophy.
“My first experience in India has been nice. Everyone is warm and welcoming and it really does feel like a family. I have had a very good ISL season. It is surely among the best in my career. However, I wish to end [the sixth edition] on a positive note. It would be incomplete in case Chennaiyin doesn’t defeat ATK [in the decider],” said Vakskis, a club record holder for ‘Most goals in a single season’.
Chennaiyin’s long unbeaten run in the competition came to a halt in the semi-final second leg against FC Goa, where the round-robin stage table-topper scripted a 4-2 victory. Asked if the close defeat has disrupted the team’s rhythm going into the final, Valskis responded, “Not really. Yes, we were annoyed with ourselves for losing the match in the closing stages. We were playing well before going down at the end. More than anything, it was a wakeup call to be even more prepared and alert. We have learnt from our mistakes.”
CFC had worked up a substantial advantage in the opening leg of the last four tie and hence finds itself in the showdown, which will be Andre Schembri’s farewell match in professional football. Valskis felt a title would be a fitting end to the Maltese’s career.
“Firstly, I would like to congratulate Andre for having a fantastic run. It must be very emotional for him, to be involved in his last game. The Chennaiyin squad wishes to send him off with an ISL winner’s medal,” he added.