ISL 2017: ''FC Goa are probably more appealing to watch but we will fight for the win'', says Chennayin coach John Gregory
Chennaiyin FC will take on FC Goa tomorrow in a game that will see them jump to the 3rd place in the table if they manage to take all three points. However, the Goans will be playing at home and will give a tough fight. A win for them will help them jump to 5th place with a game in hand and they could even jump 2 places to 3rd if they win their next match.
Chennaiyin coach John Gregory was happy with his team's performance in the ISL so far, but thought they could have done better in some games. He said '' We always fight to play well, we've played some of our best football versus the top teams, in fact. We won in Bengaluru, we won in Jamshedpur and in Pune too! We've played very well on the road, yet we have lost points to teams like Kerala, Northeast and Delhi who've been having a tough season. We know how big this match is and what it means to both teams, it's very important and at this stage, you can't afford to slip up.''
''The second half of the season is always important and in recent games we've seen teams like Jamshedpur and Kerala managing to get their seasons back on track. The teams (FC Goa and Chennaiyin) have a good history, no doubt. With the 2015 ISL Final. last season's final 5-4 game which went Goa's way and all the games in between, there have also been a lot of goals in this particular fixture''
The two teams last met two months ago, in November last year when FC Goa travelled to Chennai and came home with all three points after a late scare from the home team. The visitors were three up inside 40 minutes but the home team regained their composure in the second half and managed to score two.
Gregory highlighted the game as a turning point and catalyst for Chennayin FC's fine form that followed after that game. He said ''The first 45 mins were a real lesson for myself, I started a system that wasn't working (With the team). But after that game, we made a few changes and tweaks and We went on a good run stacking points and getting good results which helped elevate us to the position that we are in today.''
''Goa has also been fantastic, they continued their opening form and recently in the last month or so they have suffered some setbacks, a bit like ourselves. Its been a difficult period for us too as we have played 5 matches in 17 days which has been really difficult if I can be honest. But all that matters now is to get the 3 points tomorrow and then we can build on that.''
FC Goa are yet to keep a clean sheet in the ISL and the Chennayin team will look to capitalize on that. On the other hand, Chennai's defence has done a decent job so far and unlike Goa, they have managed to keep clean sheets on four occasions.
Gregory spoke about his team's strengths in defence saying, ''We built our team around a very strong defence, we bought in 3 foreigners and they've been a solid rock for us and we've managed to win a couple of games by a single goal and our foreign defenders have stood out. Their (FC Goa) foreigners are also great at attacking have been impressive they are also probably more interesting and appealing to watch in the way their style and due to their ability of their attacking players but it will be good fixture nevertheless.''
Chennaiyin's Henrique Sereno returns to the team after serving a one-match suspension and the coach made it clear how the defender's presence and return is a massive boost to the team.
He said ''Fully fit squad, no more suspensions or injuries, a good training regime and medical department. It's great to have Sereno back, he plays like a leader and is a huge presence in the dressing room and that's why he has the captain armband, he leads by example on the pitch. We missed him against Bengaluru, we felt hard done by the decision (red card) but yeah we struggled a bit in the following match against Delhi as well. It's great to have him back for such an important game''
The coach also said that Indian Football is doing pretty well at the moment and spoke about the quality of football in the country too, ''There's not a lot to separate the teams in all honesty. Delhi is at the bottom but they play good football and are a good team, they managed to beat Bengaluru who is the team at the top and that's just an example of how anyone can beat anyone in this league. The teams are really good, strong and technical compared to the previous few years for a team like Bengaluru to join in the first year and do so well. It certainly looks like all is well for Indian football.''
Chennayin FC take on FC Goa at 8 pm tomorrow at the Fatorda Stadium, Goa.