Marco Materazzi, in person, is not quite like the bruising, no-nonsense defender he was in his playing days, the man who pestered Zinedine Zidane so much in that unforgettable 2006 World Cup final, that even the great man lost his rag. In person, the Italian is soft spoken, a man who articulates his words well and someone who knows just what to say, much like the modern-day managers.

With Chennaiyin FC looking to make a roaring start to their ISL campaign with a win over Atletico de Kolkata at home in Chennai on Saturday – the opening match of ISL 2015 -- Materazzi is confident he has the team and strength in depth able to go all the way.

"I believe I have 25 players capable of playing at any time," Materazzi, speaking via a translator, said in rather wonderful sounding Italian. "Unfortunately, I can only pick 11 players, but I am expecting a good season from Chennaiyin.

"We had a very good preseason this time out, a full month of training, which is different from last season. So that, in itself, puts us ahead from last season.

"As a group we are a great team, so let's hope for the best."

Chennaiyin did not have the greatest of defences in ISL 2014 – they conceded the second highest goals, with only Mumbai City FC giving away more goals -- even if goals came with great regularity, but as far as Materazzi is concerned, last season was a great success, despite the league toppers crashing out in the semifinals to the Kerala Blasters.

"I am not too concerned about the defence, because if it means out goals can take us to the semifinals again, I will take it now."

While a lot of the attention is taken by the high-profile foreign players, this is after all the Indian Super League, and Materazzi said he believes the way forward for this tournament is to play with as many Indians as possible.

Picking out one standout Indian player in the squad, the former Italy international went with Harmanjot Khabra, the midfielder from East Bengal and Chennaiyin FC, while also giving a special mention to forward Jayesh Rane.

"I think that Khabra is a really important player for us, but he would be an important player for many, many Italian teams.

"Jayesh is someone with great potential, he has the ability, but he needs to bridge that gap and then he can be a really great player."