Gregory: Josep Gombau produces good footballing teams

Chennaiyin FC’s sixth match of the Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2019-20 will see them go up against Odisha FC at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Chennai on Thursday. The two-time Hero ISL champions showcased tremendous character in their last match, securing their first win of the season after a dramatic finish against Hyderabad FC.

At his pre-match press conference, Chennaiyin head coach John Gregory, once again, reiterated his support for forwards Andre Schembri and Nerijus Valskis, both of whom finally managed to get on the scoresheet in the last match. He said, “I’ve never had any doubts about that (their goal scoring ability) because as I said on Monday night, they score like this every day in training. Before they came to us, I knew a lot about the two of them, about their ability to score goals. And they showed it in training. I sometimes worry, but I worry for them because I always put myself in the position of the player. I remember what it was like for me as a player. I always have an affinity towards my players and the difficult times they go through.”

Moving his attention to the goals themselves, Gregory said, “Andre’s goal, he almost created it himself. And when Nerijus got the opportunity, he composed himself just in a split second. He made it look simple, but it was a lot more difficult than he made it look. They both showed their quality the other night. I’ve never lost my belief in them.”

The Englishman then applauded the fans for their support and stated, “The fans’ reaction to our win was quite amazing on the night. I hadn’t heard a stadium so noisy since we beat (FC) Goa in the semi-final of Hero ISL 2017-18. The noise that the fans made at the final whistle was quite incredible.”

“Coming back to the hotel after that match, every member of the staff came up to the players and congratulated us on the victory. It was quite an incredible feeling for everybody, and I hope my players understand what it means to so many people connected with our club. I hope they have the desire to do the same against Odisha,” he added.

The 65-year-old, however, admitted that getting the better of Josep Gombau’s Odisha FC will be far from straightforward. “Josep, he produces good footballing teams. His team is playing good football. They had an outstanding win when they played in Mumbai couple of weeks back. If we give the ball away to them, we know they’ve got the capability of looking after it. We’ll need to be switched on.”

Valskis also attended the pre-match briefing along with Gregory, and the Lithuanian expressed his delight at having finally scored his first goal for the club. “Everybody saw how I celebrated after the goal. I was very happy for myself and the team. We got three points. We had played two games very well at home and we had not won. Finally, we did win,” he said.

Read the Match Preview here.

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