Chennaiyin FC finished eighth in the 11-team Indian Super League (ISL) 2020-21 table registering an average of one point per game. Chennaiyin FC were the runners-up last season but with their coach of last season Owen Coyle and their main striker Neijus Valskis gone to Jamshedpur FC, the Mariners were unable to get the desired results. Even though Chennaiyin got a good coach in Csaba Laszlo, they failed to replace Valskis and none of the signings could provide the clinical touch they needed upfront. Jakub Sylvestr created a lot of chances for himself and his teammates while Esmael Goncalves’ presence was big but neither could find the back of the net as regularly as the team needed. Moreover, Lallianzuala Chhangte was guilty of missing a lot of clear-cut chances he did score four goals in 20 games.
Chennaiyin FC were never really outplayed by any of their opponents except for a game against Hyderabad FC, which the Nizams won 4-1. IN 20 games, Chennaiyin conceded just 23 goals. Only four other teams conceded less than them. Chennaiyin registered the joint-highest number of draws and only three wins, which led them to finish at the eighth spot in the 11-team points table.
ISL 2020-21 record: Played: 20; Won: 3; Draw: 11: Lost: 6; Points: 20; Standing: 8
Chennaiyin FC, early on in the season, got a 2-1 win over FC Goa with their Indian youngster Rahim Ali getting on the scoresheet. That was pretty much the highest point of Chennaiyin FC’s season, where they had a legion of draws to settle for.
Chennaiyin FC were a team that fought hard throughout the course of a match. However, their two losses to Hyderabad FC were painful ones. In their first game against Hyderabad FC, the Nizams completely outplayed them and Laszlo regularly referred to it as the only time his team was nowhere in the competition. However, Chennaiyin lost the return leg to Hyderabad as well by the scoreline of 2-0.
MOST VALUABLE PLAYER
Chennaiyin FC’s most valuable player was Anirudh Thapa. Even though the Indian midfielder missed a lot of games this season due to injury, he was one who Chennaiyin missed immensely. In the 14 matches he played, he even found the back of the net twice on days he was played in a more attacking role. Coach Laszlo even said that Thapa was capable of leading the Indian national team one day.
Esmael Goncalves and Jakub Sylvestr will perhaps be the biggest disappointments for the club. Both these players were meant to be the target men for the rest of the team but they failed to live up to the expectations. While Goncalves scored four goals in 16 games, Sylvestr found the back of the net only twice in 19 games. It was largely due to these two and Chhangte that Chennaiyin FC’s ratio of number of chances created to converting them was extremely poor.
Chennaiyin FC have a good coach and a very good Indian core. After the disappointment of the 2020-21 ISL season, they will need to go back and sort out the strikers’ issue. Valskis was the perfect striker for them last season and if they can get someone who can pump in 13-14 goals a season for them, they will be good to go.
Highest goal scorer: Esmael Goncalves – 4
No of clean sheets: Vishal Kaith – 6