Straightforward and open-minded, Chennaiyin FC’s marquee player John Arne Riise says Indians lag slightly behind in terms of tactical understanding as they learn the art late.
In a tete-a-tete with the The Hindu, the former Liverpool player reveals hopes to come back next season, as a coach.
Chennaiyin has a strong spine… what are your thoughts on that?
Marco [Materazzi] wants a strong spine. We have a lot of options for the central role. I also want the Indian players to learn to be offensive.
When Chennaiyin FC was leading 2-1 against Atletico de Kolkata, Materazzi replaced left-back N. Mohanraj with debutant Jerry Lalrinzuala who made a silly foul in the box and conceded a penalty. If you had moved to the left-back position and sacrificed an offensive player, the script could well have been different…
I will not blame Jerry for that. We were controlling the game in the second half. We knew that they would play long balls into the box, and he went for the challenge. At first glance, I thought it was not a penalty. It was a soft one. If I had played as a left-back, I would have done the same.
Most of the sides have signed foreigners as attacking options (the front four). India suffered a lot during the World Cup qualifiers in those positions. How can we solve this problem?
We are lucky to have Indians in those positions. We have strong offensive players like Jayesh (Rane) and Jeje (Lalpekhlua). Each coach wants to get the right combination to have a shot at the title. The league also has the responsibility to develop Indian talents. Almost all the players I have met in the last two years are eager to learn. They ask us quite a few questions. Hopefully, things will change.
What are your views on the Indian defenders?
Tactically, the Indians are a little bit behind. That’s why Marco and I are keen to teach them. We have Wadoo and Mohanraj who are quality players. They may be a little behind in terms of tactics. That’s because they don’t learn from a young age as we do.
Your coaching plans?
I am trying to get the coaching licence back in Norway. I am here to gain experience and learn from Marco. Yes, I want to be a coach. I will be talking to different people in India and who knows, I may come back as a coach next year.
Your ISL coaches [Roberto Carlos and Marco]…
Though they are defenders, they are attack-minded coaches. Carlos wants his team to play attacking football and be relaxed throughout. Marco, on the other hand, wants his team to be compact. He likes his side to defend and attack as a unit.