‘I enjoyed playing under Materazzi’

"Playing in a big club such as Corinthians helps you to deal with pressure but I must say there are many big players in Chennaiyin FC also so even I can learn a lot here. The love I got from the fans was incredible. They were supportive through good and bad times."

Colombian frontman John Mendoza scored four goals from nine matches in last year's ISL before injury forced him out of the tournament.   -  R. Ragu

Chennaiyin FC have retained the services of Colombian frontman John Mendoza. In last year’s ISL, he scored four goals from nine appearances for the Chennai outfit in the group stages before injury cut short his participation. Sportstar had an interaction with the Colombian. Edited excerpts:

You play for a big club like Corinthians. What made you return to Chennaiyin FC?

Well Marco Materazzi was the main reason. I enjoyed playing under him last year so when the chance came again this time I took it. I aim to have an even better ISL this time and then after the end of the loan stint go back to Corinthians and try to play regularly there.

What have been the experiences at Corinthians that you can share with your teammates?

Playing in a big club such as Corinthians helps you to deal with pressure but I must say there are many big players in Chennaiyin FC also so even I can learn a lot here.

Being one of the best performers for Chennaiyin last season, how are you shaping up for the second year?

We have prepared well and have to now perform on the pitch.

How has the pre-season been? What are the specific areas you and your teammates are working on?

We have had a solid pre-season, we have been working on all aspects.

You played with young Indian forwards like Jeje and Balwant last year. Now you will also have Fikru and two attacking mid-fielders in Elano and Bruno. How do you assess the forward line?

I think we have more creativity and flair in the team this time. There is great competition for a starting slot, which is a great thing.

Despite being the best team last season in the group stage, you missed out in the semi-finals. What did you think the team lacked?

In football you can’t predict anything. We had some bad injuries and didn’t play well in the first leg of the semi-final. We would like to go all the way this time.

ISL has seen a huge influx of South Americans, especially Brazilian players. In terms of football philosophy what can the Indians pick up from the Latin Americans?

Skills and technique.

Have things improved compared to last year in terms of practice facilities and pitch conditions?

I am yet to see our main pitch but Marco told me it is much better this year and the training ground is just fantastic.

What was your biggest takeaway from the first season?

The love I got from the fans was incredible. They were supportive through good and bad times.

Unlike established leagues worldwide, the time between matches is very short in ISL and also involves significant travel across the country. As a professional, how hard is it to cope with that?

It is not easy but back in Brazil too there are weeks when you play three times. So it is not a big concern.

  Dugout videos