If we want to dominate in the future, we need to be patient now: CFC coach Bandovic

Chennaiyin FC began the Indian Super League 2021-22 in Goa on a strong note, picking up eight points from its first four matches.
If we want to dominate in the future, we need to be patient now: CFC coach Bandovic
Chennaiyin FC head coach Bozidar Bandovic


Chennaiyin FC began the Indian Super League 2021-22 in Goa on a strong note, picking up eight points from its first four matches, but has gone off the boil recently. Bozidar Bandovic-coached Chennaiyin, which is eighth on the table with 19 points from 15 fixtures, will make it to the play-offs only if something extraordinary happens in the remainder of the season. CFC, a club that clinched its two ISL titles in a span of three years (2015 & 2017-18), is set to miss out on the top-four for a second successive season. Chennaiyin had finished eighth in the standings (with 20 points from as many matches) under ex-head coach Csaba Laszlo in ISL 7 in Goa. With the team and the fans enduring some of the most painful days in the club’s history, Bandovic on Tuesday spoke at length about what has gone wrong so far in the ongoing season, the upcoming assignment against FC Goa (at the Tilak Maidan in Vasco on Wednesday) and what needs to be done to bring back the glory days. Interestingly, the Montenegrin manager talked extensively about the future although his current CFC contract runs only until March 30 (end of the season).
On Chennaiyin’s poor performances in recent matches
I know that results like these (one win in the last six matches) are difficult to swallow for a club which has won the championship [twice]. But, we need to be patient. I am responsible [for what has been happening on the pitch]; I made some mistakes. I am trying my best along with the players. I cannot be unfair with the players because they give everything. I know that the fans are not happy [with the results]; they are right. Looking at [what happened] last year (referring to the eighth-place finish under Csaba Laszlo), the team needs at least two years to be fixed and to become the champion. I want the team to dominate [on the pitch]; the fans want the same too. If we want to dominate consistently in the future, we need to be patient now.
On the indifferent goal-scoring form
When we played well and created the chances, we did not score goals. We need to be more dangerous in front of the opposition’s goal. We made many mistakes with the ball at our feet [in the last match against Mumbai City FC – 0-1 loss], even when we were not put under pressure. This is one thing we need to fix in the future.
On CFC’s chances of qualifying for the play-offs
It is difficult, but there is always a chance. We need to look at ourselves; we need to try and deliver our best in the next five games. We have to give everything [on the field]. We will not give up. We could have had (earned) a few more points [from the matches we have played so far]. We should have won the [SC] East Bengal game (which Chennaiyin drew 2-2 last week). Obviously, they (the late goals conceded against East Bengal and Mumbai City) have cost us points. But, a few [refereeing] decisions went against us as well.
On Chennaiyin’s next opponent FC Goa and the upcoming clash
Goa is a technically good team that prefers to play from the back. It wants to keep [hold of] the ball and press high. [Jorge] Ortiz, [Alberto] Noguera and [Edu] Bedia are good players. We need to take care of them and press them tight. We will rotate [our players] now because we have just three days in between the games (CFC’s last match was on Sunday). Mirlan [Murzaev] will be ready and would probably start. With him, we will have more pace [up front] and will be more dangerous [in attack]. Probably, Ariel [Borysiuk] would be moved to the middle so that we become stronger [in that area]. At the back, I would probably give a chance to some player who has not played till now.
On missing a few players due to injuries
Sajid [Dhot] and [Vladimir] Koman cannot play. In this moment, they are very important players. But, we need to play without them. When the key players are out, the team is not [functioning] the same [way]. It is very clear. We are more dangerous when we have Ariel, Koman and [Anirudh] Thapa in the middle [of the park]. It (the impact) is not the same when we rotate the players [in midfield].
On Lallianzuala Chhangte’s loan move to Mumbai City in the January transfer window
How can I keep a player [at the club] when he tells me that he wants to go? He (Chhangte) felt that the transfer was better for his future. He initially decided to go to Mumbai after the end of the season and did not want to renew his [Chennaiyin] contract. A couple of days later and after discussing with his family, he told me that he wanted to move to Mumbai immediately. He is a young boy who has a great future [in front of him]. He has made a brave decision and I admire him for that. To be clear, I will not stand in the way of a player, who could even be my son. The coach (referring to himself) wanted Chhangte [to stay]. The coach wanted one more [player like] Chhangte [at CFC].
On what he would like to do if he continues his stay at the club
I have a contract until March 30. I will support the club [irrespective of whether it decides to retain me or not]. The management knows what I am thinking about; I have explained everything to it. I have spoken to it about what needs to be done for improvement. The situation is very clear, whether it is with or without me. We need to build the team [for the future]. We need to start [the work] now if we want to be ready in March-April [to sign players]. This is my opinion, especially with regards to the domestic players. It is normal to do such a process [after what happened last season]. We need to bring in more domestic players who would be first-choice. In such a case, the team will have 16-18 [good domestic] options. We need to have players who can maintain the level of the team every match. We need to try and complete the squad by April. In [the] January [transfer window], it is difficult to sign [domestic] players because they are under contract at other clubs and are happy at their respective teams. If the players are signed in August [for the start of the new season], even the next coach (if someone replaces him in the summer) will have problems. The fans and the management will not get the results they expect from the team.

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