Kolkata, February 16, 2020: Star Indian midfielder Anirudh Thapa has been a mainstay in the Chennaiyin midfield this season, playing in 14 of their 15 games so far and notching three assists in that time.
The one game that Thapa did miss was the previous outing against Bengaluru FC through suspension. And CFC missed Thapa’s agility, creativity and passing in the middle in what was an intense goalless encounter.
Chennaiyin take on ATK FC on the road up next and the former will be boosted by Thapa’s return, who is also set to make his 50th ISL appearance in Kolkata.
Speaking alongside Head Coach Owen Coyle at the pre-match press conference on Saturday, Thapa reflected on his ISL journey by saying, “The journey has been fantastic. I’ve been with Chennaiyin FC since my first day in the ISL. It is like my second family. At the age of 18 I joined this club, have played many matches and now have reached a milestone.”
But Thapa wasn’t letting personal milestones get in the way of the team’s objective of getting three points and continuing their charge for a top four spot.
“It’s a big thing for me, but more importantly it is a big game for the club against ATK. We have some unfinished business. And that’s the most important thing right now. I am more focused on the match against ATK because we need the points,” said a determined Thapa.
The talented 22-year-old has improved further since the arrival of Owen Coyle in December; outlining what changes the new gaffer has effected along with his Assistant Coach Sandy Stewart.
“The intensity levels in training have increased a lot since he (Owen Coyle) has come in. The togetherness of the players on and off the field is massive. It was somewhat lacking before. But now it is for everyone to see with our results and performances.”
“This is like family for everyone, being away from home. Everyone is willing to give their best for the club. He (Owen) had done a lot since coming in along with Assistant Coach Sandy (Stewart). They are also constantly talking individually to players as well, making them better. We are learning a lot from their experience.”
Asked on what his future aspirations are, given his rise at such a young age, the India international said, “At this age I just want to improve myself in whatever way I can, because there is a long way to. Whatever experience and learning I can gather is crucial, either here with CFC or with the national team. It is good for me.”
“Whatever I do in the future, I need to look back and say I did something good. It is good for me to be learning a lot at this age. It will help me greatly in the future,” he added.
Thapa was also quizzed about what the team will do to stop Roy Krishna & Co. from scoring. His response was, “Obviously Roy Krishna is a good striker. He is the top scorer right now. But I think we also have a good striker in Nerijus Valskis. He is in good form, Rafa (Rafael Crivellaro) is too. Both are scoring consistently; and our front four has a good combination.”
Thapa reiterated it will be about CFC and how they approach the game rather than stopping the threat of ATK. “It is not about stopping them. It is about us and how we play. What we do in the field. Because that is what matters. If we follow our plan, we will be successful and get the points,” he concluded.