Goal takes a look at the 2020-21 Indian Super League (ISL) season of Chennaiyin…
Chennaiyin were held to a 1-1 draw in their final league stage game of the season and they became the first team to play the whole quota of 20 matches.
The Marina Machans finished the league stage in the eighth position and could drop down to tenth depending on the results of other teams below them. They have collected just 20 points from these games, with 11 draws to their name – a tally that is the highest in the league this season.
With Chennaiyin’s league campaign coming to a close, Goal takes a look at their 2020-21 Indian Super League (ISL) season.
What went wrong for Chennaiyin in ISL 7?
The biggest problem for head coach Csaba Laszlo throughout the entire seventh season of ISL was his team’s inability to finish the chances that they created to score goals. Only East Bengal (16) has scored fewer goals than Chennaiyin who have netted a meagre 18 times in their 20 league games and the Red and Golds still have two more games to play.
One of the biggest turning points in Chennaiyin’s season was the injury to Rafael Crivellaro. He was replaced by Manuel Lanzarote later on but the Machans were already under a lot of pressure by then. Without Crivellaro, the team struggled to link the defence to the attack. While the team still created chances, Crivellaro’s was influential to the squad and his absence was felt.
The likes of Lallianzuala Chhangte, Jakub Sylvestr, Isma Goncalves have all been guilty of missing clear-cut chances and the head coach has often looked confused and bewildered by the team’s profligacy in the final third. He couldn’t solve the problem and the Machans ultimately paid the price.
Chennaiyin could not replace the goals that Nerijus Valskis, who left for Jamshedpur FC at the start of the season, produced last season. Anirudh Thapa’s injuries did not help either.
What are the positives for Chennaiyin from ISL 7?
Chennaiyin were able to constitute a decent backline this season, with Enes Sipovic and Eli Sabia conceding 23 goals in 20 matches which is a decent record. And only three teams have kept more clean sheets than their defence.
Though Sipovic has been suspect at times, Eli Sabia continues to be a stable presence at the back.
Anirudh Thapa missed games due to injury but he will hope to take up a more important role in the squad next season. He captained the team at the end of the season and the head coach even tagged the midfielder as someone who is capable to lead the Indian national team.
The emergence of Rahim Ali and Deepak Tangri has shown that Chennaiyin’s investment in youth has produced dividends.
Another player who did well is midfielder Memo who proved to be a useful signing for the team, he contributed at both ends of the pitch but it seemed like there was never enough support for the player in the final third.
Also, Csaba Laszlo will also take heart from the fact that the club was never really outplayed by any team, save their 4-1 defeat at the hands of Hyderabad FC. Despite not scoring enough goals, they created chances galore in almost every game they played.
Chennaiyin delivered one of their best performances of the season when they beat FC Goa 2-1 in December. In one of only three wins this season, goals from Crivellaro and Rahim Ali helped the Machas beat playoff favourites Goa.
Chennaiyin’s Players of the Season
We do not feel that any player stood out with consistency to be named Chennaiyin’s player of the season in what has been a disappointing season overall. However, in terms of consistency of performances, a couple of players who have been dependable are Memo Moura, Reagan Singh and Deepak Tangri in their roles.
Memo has been a dependable player for a struggling Chennaiyin whenever he has featured. The midfielder-cum-defender, who spent three seasons at Jamshedpur, had a decent debut season with the Machans and played 19 games for Csaba Laszlo of which 16 were starts.
Reagan had a good season at right-back as well, providing plenty of support in attack down the right flank and also showing defensive solidity at the back.
Lallianzuala Chhangte is a notable mention here as he was a dangerous asset down the flanks for the team. But quite often, especially in the first half of the season, he kept missing chances and was often found wanting with his final finish or delivery.