Chennai, October 27, 2019: Head Coach John Gregory and attacking midfielder Dragos Firtulescu were in candid mood when they addressed the media at the pre-match press conference on Saturday ahead of the club’s opening home game against Mumbai City FC on Sunday.
Dragos exuded confidence while replying to a flurry of questions from curious journalists. “I am an attacking midfielder. I can play in all three positions. I feel good on the right side, but I will give my 100% wherever the coach asks me to play, even as a goalkeeper!” he quipped when asked about where he prefers to play.
Talking of his first impression of Indian football and the team’s composition, he said, “Everyone thinks it will be easy to play football in the ISL, in India. But it is not. You cannot build a house in 2-3 days. Maybe we need some time. There are players who have won the title here, others are new. The likes of Lucian (Goian), Rafael (Crivellaro) and Eli (Sabia) have all played at the high level. I feel we are one of the best teams in the championship. All we need is some chemistry and patience.”
Dragos impressed in the club’s opening day 3-0 defeat away at FC Goa. The Romanian was in the middle of a contentious call in the 12th minute after Seriton Fernandes had hacked him down in the box, the referee waving away the penalty claims.
Commenting on the incident, Head Coach John Gregory hit out by saying, “That was the clearest penalty I think I’ve ever seen in 50 years of football. It was unbelievable, the lack of a decision from the referee and the linesman. The standard of refereeing certainly needs to improve.”
“The league has improved in so many ways – the tactical knowledge coaches have brought, the standard of the Indian players and their football knowledge, the foreign players have improved the teams. The quality of the refereeing though hasn’t improved at all,” he added.
Looking ahead to the tie against Mumbai City FC, Gregory was upbeat about his side’s chances. “I don’t care how it looks but all we need is three points. It will be good to get maximum points from the next two matches at home (vs MCFC and ATK). It will certainly give the players a lot of confidence. Best way to make an impression on our fans is a win in our first home game. We are ready.”
Dragos also shared his thoughts on making a first appearance in front of the home fans. “We are sorry for the result against Goa, but we are ready for our next test and to make the fans happy. I am excited and nervous for the first game. I love football too much. I hope to make a good game but the most important is to get three points. And hopefully we can celebrate with our amazing fans.”
Lastly, Gregory hinted at possible changes to his starting eleven against MCFC, citing positive performances in the Goa defeat. “I’ve always had the luxury to change some of my personnel. I have quite a few good options on the bench. I do have in my mind to make one or two changes for the MCFC game.”