Chennaiyin FC rebounded from their opening loss in this year's ISL in fine fashion with a 3-0 win over NorthEast United in front of their home fans.
It was an important win for Chennaiyin for the points as well as the fact that NorthEast had never suffered defeat here in Chennai in the three seasons thus far. The win also marks the first of this new era with John Gregory in charge and the Englishman was rightfully pleased with the result.
Calling it a “a very good game”, Gregory actually mentioned that more than the result, he was happy about keeping a clean sheet.
“I took more pleasure in not conceding. Keeping clean sheets is where our future lies. As I’ve mentioned before, the best teams that get to the finals of tournaments by keeping clean sheets,” said Gregory.
Midfielder Raphael Augusto was superb for the home side, scoring one and being involved in everything that Chennaiyin did. Gregory said it was an “outstanding effort” from the Brazilian, before adding: “You saw his performance today, two goals (one was credited as an own goal). We managed to get him into positions where he could hurt the opposition. It's down to the other guys and me to get the best out of him every week because he's such a talented player.”
Gregory's choice to go with two midfielders to start the first game backfired as it instead gave the initiative to Goa, but against NEUFC Gregory addressed that error by starting with a 4-5-1 formation instead with Dhanapal Ganesh and Bikramjit Singh playing behind Augusto.
The move helped to free Augusto up a little more and get him involved the attacks. Gregory spoke about how happy he was with the duo and revealed a funny incident from earlier in the day.
“I sent a text to Ganesh today morning at about half-past nine. He was still asleep then. I had asked him to come see me in the breakfast room in 15 minutes. He came in, absolutely petrified, thinking that he was in trouble over something. That's when I told him that maybe he was likely to play later in the evening, after which his expression suddenly changed,” said Gregory.
“And he played so well. Both Bikram and him played fantastically well. The young boys can take a lot of pleasure in winning 3-0. It's just so proud of our club how two Indian boys played in that central role and dominated proceedings. When they perform, it just makes us want to keep developing them more,” he added.
Despite such a resounding win though, Gregory was quick to dismiss suggestions that he'd found his best eleven.
“We can't rest on our laurels. Next game I might need to do something different, you never know,” quipped Gregory.
Chennaiyin now enjoy 10 days off before they next play again, which will be against FC Pune City on December 3.Published 24 Nov 2017, 13:41 IST