- Feb 23, 2024
- Oct 14, 2022
After getting knocked out before the playoffs in three of the last four seasons, two-time champions Chennaiyin FC have made several changes ahead of the 2022-23 edition of the Indian Super League. The last two years in particular have been the worst for the team as they finished eighth in the 11-team table.
In a major change, new coach Thomas Brdaric and 18 new players have been drafted in by the Marina Machans to bring new life into the team. Tucked away in the galaxy of the new star cast at Chennaiyin is defender Aakash Sangwan.
Sangwan was signed from I-League Club RoundGlass Punjab FC (earlier known as Minerva Punjab) and has played 66 matches in his professional career. He was also part of the I-League-winning Minerva Punjab side in the 2017-18 season.
Now 26, the left-back who hails from Haryana is ready for his first ISL season. The defender realises his move to ISL is a “big step up” but is not short of confidence. In his own words, he is “ready” for the new challenge.
“I played for a very good I-League club but this surely is a step up. Football is tough in I-league as well, but it gets more technical and tactical here,” Sangwan said in an interview with Firstpost.
“Last year playing in I-League, I realised I am ready for ISL. RoundGlass had a lot of players with ISL experience and I was doing well against them and while playing with them, so I knew I am ready for ISL,” he added.
Coach Brdaric will also be looking to get off to a great start in his coaching stint at the ISL. The majority of coaching work for the former Bayer Leverkusen forward has been in Europe except for a spell as a sporting director of FC Bunyodkor (Uzbekistan). Sangwan revealed that Brdaric is very balanced, and expects nothing but 100% focus in the middle.
“He is a very balanced man on and off the field. Off the field, he jokes around and keeps thing light but on the field, he is very demanding and disciplined. He doesn’t like it if you are not 100 percent focussed,” he further said.
Chennaiyin’s major weakness last season was their inability to score goals. They netted the ball the least number of times in the league stage last season — 17 — and conceded 35. Sangwan said that the whole unit at the club including the experienced Chennaiyin players and the newcomers have had a detailed discussion on things that went wrong last season. He also feels the Durand Cup would help the new players to quickly settle into the new environment as Chennaiyin seek a turnaround.
“They ( players from last season) have pointed out mistakes we made last season. The main focus is to not repeat the mistakes of the last season,” he says. Chennaiyin open their ISL 2022-23 campaign on 10 October against ATK Mohun Bagan at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata.