Defending champions Aizawl FC will lock horns with Chennai City FC on Saturday on their home soil. The hosts come into the tie following a loss against Mohun Bagan. Head coach Paulo Meneses believes that his contingent will bounce back with a win.
"These group of players always reply with a big answer with a good performance after a bad result," he remarked.
On being asked if the team will fight to retain their title, Meneses chose to be diplomatic and instead focussed on the team having several youngsters.
"We used five to six kids between 17 and 19 years old in the last match; they have quality but they need to improve and grow up. With the help of foreigners and experienced local players in the team, they can grow up. We need to go step-by-step,’’ he answered.
The Portugal-born coach stated that his troops aren’t under pressure as they do not have a massive budget, unlike the clubs from Kolkata.
‘’I cannot think of (title favourites) East Bengal tomorrow (Saturday) when we are facing Chennai City. We won’t go in the tie tomorrow with pressure. Pressure is on East Bengal and Mohun Bagan whose budget is five-to-six times more than ours,’’ he concluded.
On the other hand, V Soundararajan discussed how his current contingent includes several young players.
Compared to last year, we have a young squad this year. We have taken more players from rural areas as we want to improve the game in the local areas," he commented.
Following their win against the then Sanjoy Sen-led Mohun Bagan, the team's confidence has been lifted. With seven home ties pending, Soundarajan is optimistic of the club getting good results.
"After beating Mohun Bagan, we feel psychologically better. We have two more away matches and after that we have rest of our matches at home. So we have more chances of getting good results later in the season."
On being asked if he has set any target for the season, the Chennai manager revealed that the Rohit Ramesh-owned outfit wants a top-four finish in order to compete with the teams from the Indian Super League (ISL) in the Super Cup.
"We want to end in the top four to play against the ISL teams. I spoke to my management as we need two more foreigners. We still have seven matches on our home ground which means 21 points are up for grabs; if we go for 15 points or more than 1212 maybe that’s enough for us to get into the best four teams,’’ he signed off.