Nestor Gordillo and Pedro Manzi proved their credentials in their very first match on Indian soil when Chennai City FC (CCFC) beat Indian Arrows 4-1, courtesy of a hat-trick from the latter. The duo has shown incredible understanding on the pitch and their ability to produce incisive through balls is a terror for any defence.
Even Indian Arrows coach Floyd Pinto could not help but praise the quality that they exuded against his side. "Obviously, the quality of the foreigners in Chennai City is great. The difference between us and them were their foreigners. We played with intensity throughout the 90 minutes. They won all the 50-50 balls though. The through passes that they put were of very high quality and any defence would have struggled," said Pinto after the defeat.
The game against East Bengal proved that the Goan coach was spot on with his assessment. The scoreline could have been more embarrassing for the home side if Manzi had managed to score from point-blank range in front of an empty net after latching onto a messy backpass from Lalrindika Ralte in the initial stages of the match.
They have already established themselves to be a nightmare for defenders and if their form continues, Chennai City FC will benefit big time.
Manzi and Gordillo have played in Spanish second division and third division clubs regularly but they were yet to ply their trade in any top-division league of any country. Hence when CCFC came calling they did not think twice to sign the contract.
"I have played in various second and third division clubs in Spain. But we wanted to play top division football. So when I got the opportunity to come to India and play for a club which is in the top division, I gladly accepted the offer," reveals Manzi.
His partner in crime, Gordillo also accepts that the opportunity to play top-tier football was difficult to turn down. "I wanted to experience a new country. I wanted to try myself in some other top league, so I came to India," said the attacking midfielder whose last club was UE Cornellà, which plays in the third tier of Spanish football.
But both of them are not admirers of the way football is played in India. They think that although India is taking giant steps and improving at a fast pace, the football here is marred by a lack of discipline and strategy.
"Football in India is crazy. In Spain, we always try to stick to a particular formation, be it 4-3-3 or a 4-2-3-1. But in India, they play everywhere on the pitch," stated Gordillo who is a keen follower of the Indian Super League (ISL) as well since his friend Tiri plays for Jamshedpur FC. Manzi feels that young Indian players lack concentration on the pitch.
The two players have forged an excellent understanding on the field.
"We have never played with each other before. We have been practising for three months in Chennai and we have managed to understand each other perfectly well," said Manzi.
They have scored six of CCFC's 11 goals and Manzi is already eyeing to be the top-scorer gong in I-League.
"I have scored four and I really hope to continue scoring more goals for my club. Top scorer? Yes, I would definitely like to end as the top-scorer but I know things will get difficult as the season progresses. I have to keep working hard and we will see what happens."
CCFC remain unbeaten after four games and their latest win over East Bengal in Kolkata definitely establish themselves as one of the title contenders in this season. They were humiliated 7-1 in the very same fixture the previous season and their performance on Tuesday is a testimony to the progress that they have made since Akbar Nawas took over in the last couple of months.
If they remain consistent, then it would not be surprising if another minnow goes on to win the I-League after Aizawl and Minerva Punjab.