Chennaiyin FC's start to the Indian Super League (ISL) season has been excellent. Six games into the season, they find themselves placed third on the table with four wins, level on points with first-placed FC Goa and second-placed Bengaluru FC.
It has been a promising turnaround from their disastrous 2016 season which culminated with Marco Materazzi parting ways after three years with the club. However, despite an overhaul in the coaching department, Chennaiyin FC kept the core of their players intact.
One of the biggest names to be retained by the Abhishek Bachchan co-owned franchise was star midfielder Raphael Augusto who played a key role in their title-winning campaign in 2015 and even in the shambolic 2016 season.
He is on a long-term contract with the club and feels that a longer ISL will be of benefit to foreign players as well, who do not have to go find clubs to play for on loan during the considerably 'longer' off-season here.
Augusto had gone on loan to Brazilian club Bangu Atletico after finishing his commitments with Chennaiyin FC last season.
"It was difficult for us to find a new club after the league finishes in three months as it was the case," he told Goal in an exclusive chat. "So for me, it is better now (that ISL is longer) because I can stay more time here and I don't have to worry about the next club."
The 26-year-old midfielder has impressed in Chennaiyin colours this season as well, developing into a go-to man for coach John Gregory, who terms him a 'fighter'. The Super Machans depend on him for creativity and drive from midfield which he provides aplenty. This helps Dhanpal Ganesh and Bikramjit Singh go about their business of lending solidity to the team.
However, Augusto states that he has never felt that he is the star of the team despite already contributing two goals to their cause.
"I don't feel like a star here at Chennaiyin FC," he said. "If I play well and the team doesn't win, I won't feel like a star.
"We win and lose as a team. So I am not a star. We just want to play well."
In fact, the Brazilian midfielder goes on to state that his aim is to top the honour board for the most assists in the league rather than scoring a lot of goals.
"My individual target for the season is to be the best assister in the league. That is what I love to do. But If I happen to score a lot of goals, I wouldn't mind. That can be another target for me but my priority is to assist my teammates," he reiterated.
It speaks a lot about his talent that despite the team possessing talented creative midfielders like Rene Mihelic and Jaime Gavilan, Raphael Augusto has managed to stand out and win John Gregory's favour.
"We (Mihelic, Gavilan and himself) have a good understanding. They are all competing with me for a spot in the team but when you are playing with good players, it makes it easier for you to develop and improve. So, I am enjoying it."
Having been involved in ISL for some time now, Raphael Augusto is enjoying his time in the country but admits that he wants to play in Europe at some stage in his career.
"Of course I have other goals in life. But I'm looking towards the present. Right now, I'm focused only on Chennaiyin FC.
"(But) I want to play in Europe if possible but if it is not so, I don't mind playing for a long time in India."
Augusto fondly remembers his time at Brazilian Serie A club Fluminense which has produced legendary names like Didi, Carlos Alberto, Rivelino, Romario and current stars like Marcelo, Thiago Silva etc.
"In 2009, it was the best time in my career at Fluminense. I played with Diogo Conca and Fred. It was a dream come true for me, playing with established international players," he signed off.