The Chennaiyin FC squad arrived in the city in the early hours of Tuesday morning after completing a month-long pre-season camp in Perugia, Italy.
Despite arriving in the wee hours, the squad received a warm welcome from over 150 passionate fans at the airport. The supporters brought flags, garlands and custom made banners and were in full voice while greeting the players with chants.
The players who arrived on Tuesday were overwhelmed with the grand response and were delighted to finally return ‘home’ ahead of the 2015 Hero Indian Super League season.
Chennaiyin’s marquee player Elano Blumer stated, “I have no words to describe how I feel. This is incredible. We can only thank the fans by performing well on the pitch. I can’t wait to play in front of all of them at the Marina Arena.”
Ethiopian striker Fikru Teferra said, “The fans were absolutely fantastic. I am a new player but they treated me as if I have been playing for them for years. I am grateful for their support and really excited to score many goals for them.”
Indian midfielder Harmanjot Singh Khabra, “I am delighted to be back in Chennai and thankful to the fans for this grand welcome. We want to win the trophy for them this time.”
Few more players and head coach Marco Materazzi will be reaching the city in the next 48 hours with the training commencing from Friday, September 25.
For about a month Chennaiyin’s pre-season training base was at Stadio Ellera, Corciano, Perugia. The 2014 ISL league stage table toppers played four practice games against local and lower division club sides during their stay in Italy.
They defeated Ortana 2-0 and ASD San Donato Tavarnelle 5-1 and lost 2-1 to Gualdo Casacastalda and 2-0 against Unione Sportiva Arezzo.
The Italian pre-season was a wonderful experience for the whole squad as it allowed them to form an understanding both on and off the pitch and at the same time face quality opposition ahead of the new ISL season.
After three days of rest, the squad will be gearing up for the final stage of their pre-season preparations to get ready for the opening game against defending champions Atletico de Kolkata at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here on October 3.
Final 26-man squad
Note: Nationality of foreigners in brackets
Goalkeepers: Karanjit Singh, Nidhinlal, Apoula Edima Edel Bete (Cameroon)
Defenders: Justin Stephen, Dhanachandra Singh, Mehrajuddin Wadoo, Abhishek Das, Lalhmangaihsanga Ralte, Bernard Mendy (France), Eder Monteiro Fernandes (Brazil), Mailson Alves (Brazil), Alessandro Potenza (Italy)
Midfielders: Harmanjot Singh Khabra, Thoi Singh, Godwin Franco, Dhanapal Ganesh, Zakeer Mundampara, Raphael Augusto(Brazil), Manuele Blasi (Italy), Bruno Pelissari (Brazil), Elano Blumer (Brazil)
Forwards: Jeje Lalpekhlua, Jayesh Rane, Balwant Singh, Fikru Teferra Lemessa (Ethiopia), John Stiven Mendoza (Colombia)
Head Coach: Marco Materazzi (Italy)