Chennai, October 27, 2019: Head Coach John Gregory was in a frustrated albeit upbeat mood following his side’s 0-0 draw against Mumbai City FC in the first Hero Indian Super League 2019-20 home game of the season at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here today.
The CFC gaffer looked back at the game and spoke about the positives while being frustrated at the lack of end product. “We totally dominated the first 20 minutes or so and I was really frustrated that we weren’t 3-0 up by that point. This is what football does. If you don’t take your chances, the opposition gets confidence and they start using the ball a little bit better. We also stopped doing the good things we had done in the first 20 minutes. But you have to be pleased with the performance regardless of the score sometimes. And we can build on this performance,” he said in a bittersweet manner.
Gregory reserved special praise for his defence, including goalkeeper Vishal Kaith, despite a few errors at the back. “In the defensive sense, we messed up a couple of times in the first-half but in general, the back four and Vishal Kaith were very solid. Edwin Vanspaul and Tondonba Singh also did well. We kept a clean sheet and that’s a good thing.”
Then talking a bit about his midfield, the Englishman lamented about how his ‘footballers’ were out of the game for a brief bit which resulted in lack of momentum after a blistering opening 20 odd minutes of CFC domination. “The ‘footballers’ in the team have to be more in the game. (Anirudh) Thapa, Dragos (Firtulescu), (Lallianzuala) Chhangte, Rafael (Crivellaro) – they’re all technical footballers. If one of them isn’t in the game, the other has to be. And today for 10-15 mins, all of them were just not in the game. That can’t be happening, one or more have to be involved at all times. But it’s a learning process, this.”
Talking about the options on the bench and the versatility at his disposal, Gregory deemed it a ‘nice problem to have’. “We have the ability to change things around. You always try and look for your best XI. I brought on Nerka (Nerijus Valskis) tonight and he got a couple of chances which he created from nowhere. Thoi (Singh) is also another, a great option to have with his attitude and work rate.”
Lastly, Gregory spoke about his delight at the domestic contingent and the promise they offer in the coming games. “My Indian boys too put in a solid performance – Vishal, Edwin, (Dhanpal) Ganesh, Thapa, Chhangte all of them. And with the national team coach Igor Stimac watching on, I hope the next India squad has more players from our team,” he quipped before signing off.
Chennaiyin FC are back in action in no time, as they welcome fellow two-time champions of the ISL ATK to the Marina Arena on Wednesday 30th October with kick off at 7:30 PM.