Chennai, November 25, 2019: Chennaiyin FC Head Coach John Gregory was part relieved, part ecstatic as he sat down to face the media following the frenetic 2-1 win over Hyderabad FC in the Hero Indian Super League here at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on Monday. The gaffer however was not resting on his laurels, as he switched focus to the next encounter against Odisha FC, again at home on Thursday.
“The Hyderabad result is very important, but Thursday’s result (against Odisha FC) will be more important. They (Odisha FC) are a good footballing team. The probably should’ve won against ATK the previous night. It will be a tough game for us. Tonight took a lot out of us physically, but we need to be ready again for Thursday. If we get another victory, then seven points will look much healthier,” he said.
Gregory and his troops kept it very, very late however to get their first win of the campaign, the Englishman having a lot to say about proceedings. “I would’ve preferred to win 1-0, actually. I’m pleased for the players. They put in a lot of hard work. I get very frustrated sometimes when we play some good football and get into the last third of the pitch, and then suddenly someone crosses the ball behind the goal. I always want it to be perfect. Today we deserved the victory without any question, but I wish it had been a little bit more comfortable,” Gregory confessed.
He was though full of praise for the goalscoring duo of Andre Schembri and Nerijus Valskis. The pair scored late goals in a dramatic finish, with a Hyderabad FC equalizer sandwiched in between. “Andre took his goal very well, and Nerijus (Valskis) really showed quality. Especially with the two touches he took in the box before scoring. And that was the reason why I bought both him and Andre because I know they can score goals. I just hope for the pair of them and the team, this is the start of more goals to come, and more victories.”
The victory comes as a breath of fresh air after what had been a tumultuous start to the season on the back of the bottom-placed finish last time out. Gregory was full of gratitude for CFC co-owner Vita Dani, saying “I feel pleased for Vita, because she’s been tremendously supportive of me and the players during this really tough time. This is her sixth season. She rarely misses a match, both home and away. That doesn’t happen a lot even in Europe. It’s easy to be supportive when the team’s winning. She’s always been there. She never goes missing,” he said out of sheer adulation.
Lastly, Gregory reserved special praise for the unconditional support of the CFC faithful. “The fans were unbelievable. When we scored the first goal, there was huge noise, partly because it was our first goal of the season. But when we scored the second goal, it was like 25,000 people in the stadium. Sabir Pasha supported me and said you can have a small amount of people in here in Chennai, but they make a hell lot of noise. I haven’t heard it that loud since Jeje (Lalpekhlua) scored the third goal against Goa in the semi-final second leg in Season 4,” Gregory remarked.