Chennaiyin’s El Khayati aims to move past injury blues and shine in Super Cup

Abdenasser El Khayati scored nine goals, the most by a CFC player, as the team finished second in goals scored (36).

Published : Apr 05, 2023 23:20 IST , CHENNAI - 5 MINS READ

Chennaiyin FC’s Abdenasser El Khayati in a training session ahead of the Hero Super Cup 2023.
Chennaiyin FC’s Abdenasser El Khayati in a training session ahead of the Hero Super Cup 2023. | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement
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Chennaiyin FC’s Abdenasser El Khayati in a training session ahead of the Hero Super Cup 2023. | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Abdenasser El Khayati was impressive in the twelve games he played for Chennaiyin FC (CFC) in its latest ISL campaign.

So much so that he’s become a fan favourite for CFC. This isn’t without reason. He scored nine goals, the most by a CFC player, as the team finished second in goals scored (36).

“I think that’s very positive that we scored a lot of goals,” he said in an interaction reflecting on the ISL campaign and in anticipation of the upcoming Super Cup on Wednesday.

“The only thing is you have to concede lesser and continue the same regarding the scoring,” he added. Broadly, he was appreciative of the team’s ability to keep the ball, get into advantageous positions, and create chances.

The 34-year-old Dutch midfielder referred to some games in which CFC squandered its lead to drive home the point that that inability to hold on to the lead was a concern.

Hampered by an injury, Nasser was in and out of the matchday squad. He said that he wasn’t able to keep his body in peak match-ready shape because of this inconsistency. But he added that missing a part of the pre-season training was a setback in achieving the desired physical shape.

“I joined in October when the team was already three months into pre-season (training). That is where you get the platform, you get physically very strong. I try be as fit as possible, which I am now, because I’m training and doing everything that I’m well-prepared!”

CFC has been training for a few weeks at the All India Football Federation (AIFF) National Center of Excellence in Kolkata and had recently won two friendlies versus Mohammedan SC and East Bengal FC. The team will be leaving for Kerala for the Super Cup on April 9. On how the team’s been shaping up, he said: “We have a good chance to do well and even win. The good thing about the Super Cup is the momentum. It’s just one game, just 90 minutes. It’s another pressure, it’s another type of game. It’s not like in the league where you can still do your strategy and tactical stuff and wait for the next week to improve. There is no time for that now. We have 90-95 minutes to win the game, and that’s it.”

Talking about head coach Thomas Brdaric, he said that they used to engage in “heated discussions on football” that was aimed at improvement. He highlighted that the coach makes the players train hard.

“He also talks a lot about things outside football. I think it’s important that as a coach you speak with the players.”

On assistant coach Raman Vijayan, he said: “It’s a little bit early to have a total picture about Raman. But from what I’ve seen until now, he’s more analytical, and observative.

“When he speaks, he speaks something very good. In the sense, he’s waiting, waiting, waiting (observing), and then he’s saying something which is of great value for us.”

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