ISL: A benevolent management, says Khabra

Playing with Chennaiyin was special and the three years were awesome, says defender Harmanjot Khabra.

"Beating Goa in Goa was special. I learnt a lot about the world ‘character.’ Playing with Chennaiyin was special and the three years were awesome."   -  ISL

Defender Harmanjot Khabra was with Chennaiyin FC in the ISL in the first three seasons. Chennaiyin won the title in 2015. Here are his overall impressions.

“It was not just about 2015, all three years (from 2014-16) with Chennaiyin FC were great. There was never a dull moment.

“Midway in Season-2, we were in a tight spot after losing quite a few matches. Prior to the last league game against Atletico de Kolkata, I still remember we were tense. Vita Dani mam (co-owner) then had a chat with each one of the players. It was a different experience for me. But we lost to ATK.

“There were four league matches left, and even if we lost one match or drew one we would be out of the tournament. We were at the eighth position in the table, if I remember right.

“And nobody was expecting us to win. But Vita mam was very confident and she again had a one-on-one chat with all the players. In fact, she told the ATK owners after the loss that Chennaiyin would meet them in the semifinals. And it did happen! We won all the four matches and went on to beat ATK in the semifinals. It still remains a record in ISL.

“I also vividly remember the match against Mumbai City in Chennai which we won 3-0. There was heavy rain then. At the hotel, we were taken care of well. The management took extra care of us. After the match with Mumbai City, we went via Tirupati to play the next match against Pune City as Chennai was flooded. Vita mam and Abhishek Bachchan sir travelled with us. I can never forget that. They are my biggest mentors.

“That season, I got a red card card against North East United in Guwahati, and against Goa FC in Chennai I got a yellow card. There were also sudden injuries to a few players. Moreover, it was a very tough moment for me as a player. The best part (of the team) was the management. Vita mam and Abhishek sir told me not to lose confidence, and exhorted me to play my game. All they said was ‘go and give your best.’

“And beating Goa in Goa was special. I learnt a lot about the world ‘character.’ Playing with Chennaiyin was special and the three years were awesome.

As told to K. Keerthivasan

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