After a dull campaign last season in the I-League under Soundarrajan, Chennai City FC management started thinking of a change. After parting ways with Soundarrajan, to bring a change, the Coimbatore based outfit promoted their Tactical Analyst Singaporean Akbar Nawas much to the surprise of many as bringing in Asian coaches is not a norm in India. Some even criticized the decision. After two matches of the new I-League campaign, it seems that the Chennai management probably did not make any mistake regarding selection of their Head Coach. With four points from two games, Nawas’ side is looking to have a much better season this time around.
We decided to catch-up with the man who has been at the helm of Chennai City FC and helping their fans dream something big this time. Akbar Nawas, spoke to Talk Sports 24X7, maintained his trademark short-speeches but managed to deliver the message that he wanted.
● TalkSports 24X7: You have been in charge of Tampine Rovers in Singapore. What made you interested to take a job in be India leaving your own country especially when Chennai City FC is a new top flight entrant in India?
○ Akbar Nawas : Last year I was in the Philippines League and coached Global FC. I came to Chennai City Football Club towards the last three games and continued thereafter for this season. The last 3 games gave me a glimpse on Indian football and it’s challenges.
● TalkSports 24X7: How has been your experience of working in India till now?
○ Akbar Nawas: Challenging. Especially regarding facilities it has been challenging.
● TalkSports 24X7: What are the differences that you note between the Singapore league and the Indian leagues?
○ Akbar Nawas : The Indian league has gone up some way and it’s definitely pretty much more competitive than the Singaporean league.
● TalkSports 24X7: Chennai City is probably the only I-League club this time who have scouted foreigners instead of dealing with agents. What’s your take on this policy?
○ Akbar Nawas: The club wanted a fresh start and I thought of trying scouting to spot players to make a change. Snce my former assistant(Jordi Vila) was Sapnish, thus me and Jordi went on that scouting trip earlier this year to Spain which helped us in spotting talents.
● TalkSports 24X7 : What’s your evaluation of the foreign players that you have?
○ Akbar Nawas: They are very competitive and professional to be precise.
● TalkSports 24X7: How important are they to your squad?
○ Akbar Nawas: They are key figures for the team. They will elevate the level of our local players.
● TalkSports 24X7: Chennai City FC is having many local players unlike some other clubs. What’s your take about the young Indian players in your side and tell us if you think anyone of them can make it to the NT?
○ Akbar Nawas: It’s one of our club’s philosophies to give young Tamil Nadu talents a chance to shine in the biggest stage. I’m sure that players like Soosairajj are already knocking on the doors of the Indian national team.
● TalkSports 24X7: Last season Chennai did not have a good run in the I-League. What’s your expectations or target this season?
○ Akbar Nawas: As such we need to take one game at a time targeting to win the game that we play because if we lose as professional players and coaches we have to reflect in why we lost.
● TalkSports 24X7: Will you like to give any message to the Chennai fans?
○ Akbar Nawas: Yes. I will like to say them that come and support us! Only with their strong presence will they motivate the team and enable them to perform one notch higher!
The next challenge of Chennai City FC is Gokulam Kerala FC, another team which is dreaming big this season. I ahead of that the Chennai City has not only made his plans clear but is grounded and probably knows what’s his actual job is.