Chennaiyin FC’s optimistic coach Marco Materazzi stressed on the need to click as a unit, implying that the departure of the mercurial Stiven Mendoza and Elano Blumer would not affect the defending champions in ISL-3.
“There are no key players in the team. Every year the team is different. Every year you have new players. It is not the key players that wins the game, it is the team and the team spirit that wins a match. What is most important is the team,” Materazzi said on the eve of their tournament opener against Atletico de Kolkata.
When asked if the team is under pressure for being the title holders, the Italian World Cup winner said, “Every season is a new season. Every team starts from zero. So thereis no extra pressure on us.”
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Materazzi is returning for his third straight season. Marquee signing John Arne Riise will add to an already tight defensive unit.
He along with Bernard Mendy at centre-back will pose a towering presence but it remains to be seen how they fare without their two golden boot winners Elano (2014) and Mendoza (2015).
But they have new additions in Succi, Maurizio Peluso and Dudu Omagbemi, who netted a hat-trick for FC Goa last season, while top Indian forward Jeje Lalpekhula will add value to the side.
Asked if he still remembers last year’s Goa incident, Materazzi said, “For me there was no such incident, we were a good team and we played well, that was just an isolated event. We should remember ISL as a league which helps football grow in India. And last year it was the fourth most watched league in the world.”
Chennaiyin FC and FC Goa were at loggerheads after their summit clash of the ISL in December last in Goa, where the Chennai side emerged 3-2 winners in a controversy-marred match. FC Goa had boycotted the prize distribution ceremony after the final, alleging that Chennaiyin FC marquee player Elano had assaulted their co-owner Dattaraj Salgaocar.
Materazzi said ISL has been a great learning experience for him.