Ahead of the second leg of their semi-final against Atlético de Kolkata at the Salt Lake Stadium on Wednesday, Chennayin FC head coach Marco Materazzi is confident his team will be able to seal a place in the final of the 2015 Hero Indian Super League. Chennaiyin go into the match in Kolkata on the back of a 3-0 win in Pune and Materazzi, speaking at the pre-match press conference, said his team will remain focussed despite knowing they were in the driver’s seat going into the match.
“I think it’s not difficult. There will be 70,000 people in the stadium and every great player wants to play in front a great crowd like that,” Materazzi told reporters on Tuesday.
The last time Chennaiyin came to Kolkata in the league opener this season, they suffered a 2-1 defeat. However, the Super Machans turned their fortunes around big time in the following weeks, registering five wins in a row – a Hero ISL record. “For me the last game we played here wasn’t actually a defeat. It was just something that gave us the strength to start over again and I think we did well,” Materazzi spoke of the match on November 18.
The Italian also said there were no new plans on his part going into the game. “I think it will be Kolkata that will have to propose something new. We will do what we have to do and adapt to the situation.”
Kolkata will miss the services of star players Borja Fernandez and Nato, both out inured. However, Materazzi refused to write off the home team. “It’s important not to forget that as of now they are still the defending champions. Even though those two players are very important to them as one is the captain and the other a very good player, I think that whoever is going to play the game in their place will be willing to show that they are a part of the team and they are going to put into the game whatever they have,” he said.
Talking about the amalgamation of Indian and foreign players in the Hero ISL, Materazzi said: “The ISL made the Indians-Foreigners rule exactly for this purpose, to make the Indian players and foreign players merge together. Even though there is a mentality difference, I think this is actually a great thing because this gives us the chance to make them come together. I think this is a great chance and a great opportunity for Indian football to grow as everybody can learn from each other. I hope the ISL will keep on growing and create a movement for football starting from the academies and I think so far it has done a great job.”