Chennai City FC take on Minerva Punjab FC in Coimbatore in their final I-League clash on Saturday, March 9 knowing full well that three points will be enough to secure them their maiden league title.
With East Bengal breathing down their necks, Akbar Nawas’ side is on the cusp of creating history and all eyes will be on their star forward Pedro Manzi, who has had a breathtaking debut season in Indian football.
The Spaniard, who has scored 20 goals so far, is tied with Churchill Brothers’ Willis Plaza at the top of the Highest Scorers’ race, and if things go according to his plan on Saturday, he can end up with two trophies to cherish for a lifetime.
I-League Media caught up with the 30-year-old marksman for an exclusive chat ahead of the deciding clash.
What are your thoughts on the season so far? Were you expecting to be on top in the final rounds of the season?
We have worked hard to be where we are at this moment on the table. Our philosophy is to go out and win all the matches, and so yes, I have to say we expected to be fighting for the title, come the end of the season.
Your partnership with your Spanish compatriots has been talked about a lot. What are your thoughts on it?
We’ve known each other for years now! We have played together in Spain, which certainly makes things easier on and off the pitch. However, it’s not just about the association between us foreign players – the domestic Indian players also form an important part of the team and have a major role to play.
What are your thoughts on the Indian players in the team? Do you feel they have the potential to make it big in the coming years?
Definitely, the Indian players in the team are full of potential. There are a number of young talents such as Romario Jesuraj, Ajith Kumar, etc. who are constantly improving and help the team perform better in the competition.
What has coach Akbar Nawas’ role been in the team’s strong performance?
The coach has played an extremely important role, especially considering the fact that we are trying to play with a philosophy that is very different from the one played here in India. He has assessed the strengths of each player excellently and turned us into a cohesive unit.
What would being the top scorer and possible league champion mean to you professionally and personally?
Being the golden boot winner is obviously a huge honour but the most important thing is to win the league. The team has worked really hard to get where we are and we just need to keep up the spirit and give our best in the last I-League match. From there, we will look to carry forward our momentum into the Hero Super Cup.