Brdaric makes debut as CFC begins Durand Cup campaign
CHENNAI: Head coach Thomas Brdaric will take charge of Chennaiyin FC in a competitive match for the first time when the ‘Marina Machans’ begins its Durand Cup campaign against Indian Army Red in Imphal on Saturday.
Two-time Indian Super League title-winner Chennaiyin has been placed in Group C along with Army Red, Hyderabad FC, NEROCA FC and TRAU FC. “I am very excited to play these matches. We are prepared and motivated to fight. This is what we have been waiting for,” Brdaric said ahead of CFC’s season opener.
“The fans are back. A competition like this is a good place to start. It is the perfect place to see where we are as a team. We must show everybody who we are,” added Brdaric, who has named a near full-strength squad that will be led by Anirudh Thapa.
The 30-member contingent, which was announced on Tuesday, includes all six foreign signings and many CFC first-timers. “Yes, we have a big squad. The season is quite long and we need all the players [to contribute]. Some players (four) are missing [from the Durand Cup squad] with injuries, but we have to cope up with the challenge.”
Talking about the team’s preparations in the lead-up to the prestigious competition, Brdaric said: “I know that we have worked hard (the players have been training since the beginning of July). We have stayed focussed during our training sessions. But, we will see where we are [when we play against Army Red].”
Chennaiyin will start as the overwhelming favourite in its first match, but Brdaric stressed that Army Red has the quality to come up with an upset. “We will have to play at a high level to hand it a defeat,” the German tactician went on to add.
CHENNAIYIN FC’S GROUP STAGE FIXTURES (ALL MATCHES IN IMPHAL): Vs Indian Army Red on August 20 (3 pm); vs Hyderabad FC on August 26 (3 pm); vs TRAU FC on September 1 (6 pm); vs NEROCA FC on September 5 (6 pm)