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Chennaiyin FC coach John Gregory backs team’s grit in ISL semis vs FC Goa

Chennaiyin FC coach John Gregory is confident about his side’s chances against FC Goa in the semifinals of the Indian Super League

football Updated: Mar 09, 2018 23:40 IST
Chennaiyin FC,FC Goa,John Gregory
John Gregory has backed Chennaiyin FC to deliver the goods against FC Goa in the Indian Super League semifinals.(ISL )

Chennaiyin FC coach John Gregory felt his team has put in fighting performances in the fourth season of the Indian Super League (ISL) to earn their place in the playoffs.

“It wasn’t an accident that we finished second in the standings. We have won away from home against Bengaluru FC, over here in Goa and also in Pune. We seem to get up for really good games this season, when we had to win matches.

“When we came over here a few weeks ago, it was a must-win situation for us and we did so,” said Gregory, whose side finished second last in the standings last season, having clinched the title in the second season.

“We earned the right to come into the playoffs. Now, we start from scratch. We are ready for it. We all are very fired up, ready to go,” added the Englishman ahead of the semifinal first leg against FC Goa.

STEADY THAN SPECTACULAR

It has been a workmanlike performance by the Chennai team and the coach is happy his chargers have given a tough time to their opponents. “Every team we have played against have had to work very hard against us.”

He also knows his task will be cut out against FC Goa. “We know that to get through to the final, we have to beat a very good team. FC Goa have been an outstanding team, they have proved that over the last couple of weeks. They came from sixth place at one stage to finish third in the standings. They scored lots of goals, have lots of attacking options and we need to be at our best,” said the British coach.

While he doesn’t have prolific scorers at his disposal, he knows those he has are all capable of scoring when required.

His main man Jeje Lalpekhlua hasn’t been among goals of late but Gregory is confident he will break the duck.

“He will score soon. And the longer he goes without scoring, the sooner he will score. We always look to Jeje to try and salvage something for us and he has come up with the goods when we need the most. So, he is due. We have got many goal-scorers though. We have some 11 different players who have scored this season.”

JEJE SEEKS GOALS

Jeje, the lone Indian to play as lead striker in this edition of ISL, has had mixed success. He drew a blank in the first three games, scored seven in the next nine and struggled for goals again as he couldn’t find the back of the net in five games that followed.

Gregory praised his foreign recruits in the backline -- Brazilian Malison Alves, Portugal’s Henrique Sereno and Spain’s Inigo Calderon – for keeping them alive and kicking with herculean efforts at the back.

“Our three foreign boys in our defence have been the most consistent players this season. Most matches they have performed very well. Goalkeeper Karanjit has had a great season. Jerry, our left back has impressed this season. He has really enjoyed himself this season and playing with the foreigners has helped him. We have built our team around these foreigners. Each week they have put in excellent performances. We have three more games to go and hopefully we will keep three more clean sheets.”

First Published: Mar 09, 2018 23:40 IST