Chennaiyin FC adds local flavour to side

The reigning ISL champion has retained the services of midfielder Dhanpal Ganesh while also securing a deal to sign defender Nallapan Mohanraj from Atletico de Kolkata.

Nallapan Mohanraj (left) and Dhanpal Ganesh at a press conference in Chennai.   -  R. Ragu

Chennaiyin FC has announced the signing of local boy left-back Nallappan Mohanraj from Atletico de Kolkata after his two-year contract expired. The reigning Indian Super League champion has also roped in defensive midfielder Dhanpal Ganesh, who was part of last year’s squad but missed the entire season due to an injury on national duty.

Mohanraj, 27, made eleven appearances for ATK across two seasons, winning the title in his very first season, and the midfielder says the move is a dream come true for him.

“I’ve played professional football for 10 years now and it is a dream come true for me playing for my home side. I would like to thank the owners of Chennaiyin FC and head coach Marco Materazzi for believing in me. I left Tamil Nadu in 2006 as a 17-year-old and have been longing to play for a club based in Chennai,” he beamed.

Mohanraj insists he is not here to merely make up the numbers. “The reason I joined Chennaiyin was that coach Marco Materazzi wanted me in his plans for the season. I am not here as a local player; I am here to play and help Chennaiyin defend our title successfully.”

Dhanpal Ganesh is equally eager to put on the blue jersey. “I have forgotten what happened (season-ending injury) last year. I have worked on my fitness and my concentration is fully on the upcoming season.”

Head coach Materazzi expressed delight with the two new signings.

In a statement released by the club, he said: “Ganesh was very unlucky to be injured last year. We hope to have him at his best this season. Mohanraj is already an ISL winner and has the quality to make a big difference in our title defence.”