ISL: "If the coach plays me number nine it will be a very big opportunity," says Chennaiyin forward Rahim Ali
Chennaiyin young forward Rahim Ali spoke on his role in the team, expectations from the season, and many more as he faced the media.
Two-time Hero Indian Super League champions Chennaiyin FC will start their new season when they take on Hyderabad FC on 23rd November at the Bambolim Football Stadium. After an underwhelming 2020-21 season, Chennaiyin FC will look forward to starting fresh under their newly appointed head Coach Bozidar Bandovic. The Marina Machans netted the least amount of goals last season and Bandovic will be hoping to solve this problem as early as possible. In this regard, Chennaiyin young forward Rahim Ali, who recently had a brilliant campaign with the Indian national team, can be a great option. Rahim, a former AIFF Elite Academy graduate spoke on his role in the team, expectations from the season, and many more as he faced the media.
"If the coach gives me the number nine position, then it will be similar to U-23 Championship. I will like to keep it simple and help the team throughout the ninety minutes," Rahim said, explaining his role in the team. Being used as a no.9 by Igor Stimac in the last NT campaign, the 21 years-old forward troubled the physically well-built middle eastern defenders a lot with his physical presence. Adding to his physical presence, Rahim held up the ball very well and brought his teammates into the game. With only a handful of Indian players capable of what he did, Rahim is a very rare breed in Indian football, the proper No.9. " There will be a lot of foreigners in the ISL, If the coach plays me in the number nine role it will be a very big opportunity for me. I will have to be physically prepared to do that. It isn't an easy position to play. I will also need to be mentally prepared to play in that level," Rahim added.
On earning his place in the first eleven
The young forward scored one goal and assisted one in the latest AFC U-23 qualifiers. While playing for the senior national team, he very recently assisted in the SAFF championship finals. He continued his good form in the practice matches and scored one goal against Bengaluru FC. With this kind of momentum under his belt, Rahim is expected to get starts in the upcoming matches."It's not easy to secure a place in the first eleven. You have to work really hard for that. I have worked hard previously and will go on to do the same in the future. I played in the last two practice matches and it went well. Now let's see, what happens next", Rahim quipped.
On getting motivated by teammates
The young budding forward revealed that as a player, he gets a lot of help from his teammates and they encourage him a lot."Everyone especially Rafa helps me a lot and encourages me. Last year when I wasn't getting chances, he motivated me and asked me to and keep it simple and work hard which gradually helped me to get my chances," the CFC forward expressed his feelings.
On playing another season without fans
The Hero ISL 2021-22 will be played in Goa within a strict bio bubble without fans. When quizzed about the role of fans in the stadium and how it helps the players, Rahim explained, "When the fans are in the stadium, the excitement level becomes higher. As a player, it helps us a lot. But that's what is the new normal. We will have to continue like this until it gets normal."