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ISL 2018-19: 'Mailson Alves Sacrificed because of Foreigner Rule' - Chennaiyin Coach John Gregory

Rohith Nair
FEATURED COLUMNIST
Exclusive
30 Sep 2018, 23:43 IST

John Gregory Chennaiyin vs Bengaluru FC ISL
John Gregory was frustrated as Chennaiyin lost their opening fixture to Bengaluru FC [Image: ISL]

Defending Indian Super League champions Chennaiyin FC saw their title defence get off to a bad start with a 1-0 loss to Bengaluru FC at the Kanteerava Stadium on Sunday. A first-half strike from Miku sealed the win for the Blues but Chennaiyin coach John Gregory wasn't too unhappy with how things turned out.

"Not a lot went wrong for us," he said. "We gave the ball away for goal when we were not really under pressure. We were a little sloppy.

"The last person you want the ball to go to is Miku. He didn't hang about, he didn't try to be clever. He just put his head down and smashed it in. That boy can certainly score goals! That's the only thing that separates us."

Also read: 'I Don't Care About Finishing as Top Scorer' - Miku

"I felt we should have been ahead," he continued. "I felt we had good opportunities. But when you come to a place like this, you have to try and contain the home team and we did that really well for 20-25 minutes. They didn't threaten our goal during that time.

"There are one or two situations where our decision-making could improve because we were giving their goalkeeper catching practice with some of our crosses. But effort-wise I can't fault the boys."

Chennaiyin forward Jeje Lalpekhlua was largely isolated up front, feeding on scraps. Although he did have two one-on-one opportunities which he fluffed, he did not receive much support even though Raphael Augusto played behind him.

Jeje Chennaiyin
Jeje missed two chances for Chennaiyin in the first half [Image: ISL]

"Yes, Jeje was quite isolated and that is something I need to address," he explained. "The way Bengaluru set up against us - obviously with Erik [Paartalu] sitting in front of the back 4 just like we do with [Dhanpal] Ganesh. Raphael [Augusto] had to move deeper and deeper to get the ball.

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"Issac is new to the role. Other than that, when we got Carlitos on for the second half we made it a little easier for Jeje, he had more company up front. But we still didn't create enough chances in the second half as we did in the first half.

"But when you receive a half-chance you take it and Bengaluru did that tonight."

Also read: Carles Cuadrat Explains Why Xisco Hernandez Ran Down Tunnel Before Substitution

Mailson Alves sacrificed for Carlitos, Augusto was outstanding: Gregory

With Chennaiyin down 1-0, Gregory had to make an attacking change and, unfortunately, that meant taking off one of the foreign defenders. Only five foreign players can be on the pitch at any given time.

"Mailson Alves was taken off because of the foreigner rule," the English coach said. "Obviously you have to adhere to it. Sometimes you have to make sacrifices. He knows it is something that may or may not happen to anyone on the field.

"We wanted to bring Carlitos on the pitch so we obviously had to take someone off. We felt the best move was to put Francisco [Fernandes] at right-back and move Inigo Calderon [to centre-back]."

Raphael Augusto
Raphael Augusto (L) was Chennaiyin's best player [Image: ISL]

"It could have been anyone - Mailson, Calderon, or even [Eli] Sabia but we needed some positivity from the foreigners in the other half of the pitch."

However, the coach had some praise for Raphael Augusto who looked the most dangerous player on the pitch for the visitors.

"I thought Augusto was outstanding tonight for us," Gregory said. "At times he was kicked a lot in the game and he was certainly man-marked when he had possession.

"But he never went missing. He's made a massive improvement in the last 3-4 months of last season and he has started off fantastic for us this year. We have to make sure we don't rely on him too much."

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