Chennai, November 24, 2019: Chennaiyin FC’s first test following the international break comes in the form of new Hero Indian Super League entrants Hyderabad FC at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here on Monday, with kick off at 7:30 PM. Both sides occupy the two bottom spots in the league standings, looking to climb up the table with what would be a more than welcome victory.
In terms of team news, CFC don’t have any fresh concerns apart from Jeje Lalpekhlua who remains on the sidelines. Head Coach John Gregory did announce in his pre-match talk that the Mizo marksman is back in first-team training but in all probability will make the bench only some time in December as they gradually step up his return a knee injury. As for Hyderabad, Head Coach Phil Brown did reveal that a number of players are expected back after time out through injury, with Adil Khan surely out of contention after picking up a knock while on national team duty.
In what will be the first ever outing between both sides, a lot is on the line given their dismal start to the campaign. Scoring a goal will also be high on the agenda, with CFC yet to find the back of the net this season after four games.
“We’ve all picked ourselves up and got back to work (after the defeat to Bengaluru FC). That’s been the biggest plus, as to how the players have got back to the training ground with lots of positivity. They were hurting as much as I was after that (BFC) match. Now everyone is determined to get six points from the next two games, which will put us right back in the race,” said Gregory during the pre-match press conference.
Gregory welcomes back winger Lallianzuala Chhangte and midfielder Anirudh Thapa back from the national team, both having hardly featured in both World Cup qualifiers for India.
“We have to get back to basics and work hard. No one has been given anything easy in football, you have to work exceptionally hard. We’ve got back to the training pitch and had to put in that much extra. We’ve had a long time to think about the last match and also prepare for the upcoming match against Hyderabad FC. Everyone has worked really hard and is focused on taking maximum advantage from two consecutive home matches,” Gregory added, as this encounter against Hyderabad FC will be followed by another one against newbies Odisha FC at home.
Gregory was joined by CFC skipper Lucian Goian. The experienced Romanian defender spoke from the heart, placing special mention on the support of the fans during such a difficult time.
“We’re confident the luck will turn tomorrow in our favour. We have to do well for our fans, there are a lot of expectations on us. They still believe in us. I know we can do it,” a determined Goian said.
The former Mumbai City FC defender recalled being in a similar situation with them last season, when they got off to a bad start before eventually qualifying for the semis. “I have been in a similar situation with Mumbai City FC last season, but after that we started winning and had a good run. We qualified for the semis and performed well. I’m sure we can repeat that here at Chennaiyin FC. We have the qualities but we’re just missing the goal. It’s a pressure on everyone, not just the forwards. But I’m sure the first goal and that first win will give us a lot of confidence,” Goian said.
Lastly, Goian stressed on not taking Hyderabad FC lightly, as they too will be hungry for the win and turning their fortunes around. “We have to be strong and focused against Hyderabad FC tomorrow. They are a good side; we can’t be underestimating them. For all you know, they could be a tougher challenge than ATK or Mumbai City FC. We stay focused here, we have a lot of chances to take three points tomorrow,” Goian concluded.