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ISL 2017: "Hope the atmosphere isn't too hostile," says Chennaiyin FC coach John Gregory ahead of Kerala clash

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305   //    21 Dec 2017, 20:24 IST

John Gregory (Image: ISL)
John Gregory (Image: ISL)

It will be back-to-back southern derbies for Chennaiyin FC in ISL 2017 as they gear up to host Kerala Blasters at the 'Marina Arena’ tomorrow. Chennaiyin have made a very good start to the season and currently sit third in the table on 12 points.

Despite that though, their coach John Gregory is not satisfied.

“I'm never satisfied," said Gregory speaking ahead of Friday's clash with the Blasters. “We sat and spoke to my players and I told them we should have more points. I've messed up a couple of times. We should have more points," added Gregory.

He did admit however that he's been pleased with the team's run thus far in his debut season. “But I'm delighted with the way our season has gone. The players have worked hard," he said.

Chennaiyin last played on Sunday when they came through with a 2-1 win away at Bengaluru FC. So the clash against the Blasters tomorrow represents another battle with a neighbouring team.

“Looking forward to the Kerala game. It is going to be tough. There are no easy games in the ISL. Every match presents a different problem," Gregory said about the game.

He mentioned that he was aware of the hype around the fixture. “We know it means a lot to our fans, just like last week (against BFC). So, we're ready and prepared. We are in good condition and we have a full squad to choose from.”

He praised the support his team's received this season and is hoping for more of the same tomorrow, but without it being too overbearing.

“I hope it's not hostile," quipped the Chennaiyin coach. “We are playing our local rivals. I believe last year, there were a lot of yellow jerseys in the stands for this fixture. This season, the atmosphere (in Chennai) has been amazing. The ATK game was unbelievable.You saw my celebration after our winner. That had a lot with the atmosphere."

“Our fans make a lot of noise. They are supportive of the team and we've given them an opportunity to do that by scoring goals. It will be a great atmosphere tomorrow. Hope we can do the same (continue scoring goals) here at the Marina Arena against Kerala Blasters.”

The Blasters have never beaten Chennaiyin in Chennai over the first three seasons, but coach Gregory though believes that it's a stat that doesn't matter considering his team have reversed some trends themselves such as beating NorthEast United earlier this season.

“Not really, no," said Gregory on if the historical head to head mattered. “We had never beaten NorthEast before this season, but we kind of put that stat to bed by beating them. So, stats are there to be broken sometimes. It is not something we buy into as a coach or a player. I only use stats when I think it gives me an advantage," he went on to say.

Gregory said he will be guarding against complacency though. “It is down to me to make sure there is no complacency in our defence. We can't underestimate anybody. I've been saying ATK are in a false position in the table. They won the other night and they will be particularly strong."

“Kerala may not have been free-scoring so far. It is irrelevant. They will work hard after their first win last week. They have suffered with injuries as well. And having got 12 points on the board, everyone seems to raise their game for us. We had to play very well against BFC," Gregory emphasized.

“We need to be on the front foot and need to be at 100%," he said, signing off.

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