‘We work with passion,’ says Chennaiyin co-owner Vita Dani

"We have had a stable squad for two seasons and have retained most of the players. I believe continuity is what makes the team stronger. We would like to retain this champion squad provided of course that they want to continue with us," says the Chennaiyin FC co-owner, Vita Dani.

A jubilant Vita Dani, co-owner of Chennaiyin FC, with the Indian Super League trophy.   -  M. Moorthy

Chennaiyin FC, who went down narrowly to Kerala Blasters in the semi-finals last season, emerged triumphant this year, defeating FC Goa in the final. According to Vita Dani, the co-owner of the Chennai outfit, they were a bit more lucky this season. “The fortunes were reversed this time,” she said in a brief chat with Sportstar.

Question: Congratulations on winning the ISL title. How would you compare this season with the last one?

Answer: I don’t see much of a difference because our team was equally motivated. I think we had a bit more luck on our side this time round. We suffered a close defeat in the semi-finals last season and fortunes were reversed this time!

Last season, we inherited a team and tried to complement it with what we had. This season, we built it from scratch. Otherwise, our philosophy hasn’t changed. We work with passion and have tremendous belief.

What were Chennaiyin FC’s defining moments in the 2015 ISL?

I think the defining moment was the loss against Atletico de Kolkata at the Salt Lake stadium. The boys were really dejected and disheartened because they did not deserve to be in that position. Abhishek (Bachchan) and I went to the dressing room and told them that we are eighth in the table and can’t go any lower! So let’s pick ourselves up and march on. Sometimes things don’t go the way you want them to, but as long there is belief, you can achieve anything.

What are the plans for next season? Any changes expected in the squad?

We have had a stable squad for two seasons and have retained most of the players. I believe continuity is what makes the team stronger. We would like to retain this champion squad provided of course that they want to continue with us!

If there is a merger of the I-League and the ISL, does Chennaiyin FC have the resources to cope with that?

We are committed to doing whatever it takes to promote football. We are based out of Chennai in Tamil Nadu and we have our own identity now, so we will think about this only when the AIFF and the ISL come up with a decision.

What have Chennaiyin FC and the ISL brought to Indian football?

The ISL has changed the world’s perspective about Indian sport. India is a great, emerging market. Before Season One, players had their apprehensions about coming to India because they did not know what to expect. The scenario was reversed this season as the players themselves wanted to come and be a part of the League.

This change in perspective is the most important thing I see coming out of the ISL. The quality of football has also gone up. This is not just because of foreign players but our very own Indian players are also improving. Their improvement should see them in demand at foreign clubs soon.

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