AFC Cup 2019: 'Performance wasn't the best, but our team spirit carried us through', says Chennaiyin coach Gregory after edging Abahani Dhaka
Chennaiyin FC earned a hard-fought 1-0 win over Abahani Dhaka Limited in their Group E clash on Tuesday in the AFC Cup 2019, securing three points and going clear at the top in their group with 7 points to their name.
But the win wasn't an easy one as Chennaiyin had to graft hard against their Bangladeshi opponents who fought tooth and nail through the game and had chances to score of their own. The definitive moment of the game came in the 79th minute when Anirudh Thapa brought down a forward pass brilliantly with his chest, before scoring a deflected goal. The shot took a deflection from Abahani Dhaka’s midfielder Wellington Priori and went in.
Chennaiyin then withstood 10 minutes of pressure to see out the game and secure their second win and third clean sheet of the group phase.
"Delighted to get the three points", exclaimed Chennaiyin coach Gregory. "Today was not an easy game as they gave us a tough time. But our team spirit got us through. A lot of credit to the players for the way they went about their job."
Gregory noted the defensive performance of his side saying, "Defensively Mailson and Eli Sabia were brilliant. Karanjit had a good game behind them coming off his line to collect some good crosses and long balls."
"Another clean sheet today, which always helps."
Gregory felt the team's 'performance wasn't the best' but was pleased to come through it with the win. "We need to play better than that going forward", added the Englishman.
Goalscorer Thapa was also delighted with the effort and explained the moment the goal came about: "I was looking for support, but I was alone in the 18-yard box. Saw CK Vineeth and tried to find him, but I managed to then get a shot and it took a deflection and went in."
He too praised the team's effort on the night: "It's a team game. Defensively we were very good. We faced many long throws. We gelled very well and it was good for us to win our last home game."
Dhaka coach Mario Lemos was disappointed with the loss, saying, 'bit too much for me', referring to his team's errors which he felt let Chennaiyin back in the game after his side had largely dominated the first half.
"We were compact and good defensively most of the game, didn't allow them space to go through the middle", said Lemos.
"But we did some mistakes against Minerva and again today. At the Asian level, clubs will take advantage of those", said the Portuguese.
Sunday Chizoba started the game after arriving on the morning of the match after visa troubles and Lemos mentioned he was 'tired'.
"We had some good chances, but I felt we were not going to score. We lacked the final threat. Against better teams I feel we miss some quality, need to be a little more cool", added Lemos referring to the chances his team had in the first half notably.
The next game for both teams is the return fixture in Bangladesh in a fortnight's time.