Gregory: Just two wins will put Chennaiyin right back in the race

Chennaiyin FC will be on the lookout for their first win of the Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2019-20 when they take on Hyderabad FC at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Chennai on Monday. The Chennai-based side is currently at the bottom of the league table with just a single point in four matches.

Speaking at the pre-match press conference, Chennaiyin FC head coach John Gregory reflected on his team’s poor start to the season and said, “I think the way that we lost the last match in Bengaluru hurt me more than anything. I was extremely disappointed with the team performance and I obviously take that very seriously because I am responsible for my team and making sure than we get the points on the board. I also must take responsibility for my player selections when they do not perform. I think that the two home matches against Mumbai (City) and ATK were good. In both games we registered many shots on goal, but we couldn’t score. We dominated both games in terms of possession and passes, but we only got one point from two games where we should have got six.”

After Chennaiyin’s 3-0 loss to Bengaluru before the international break, Gregory had hinted that he might be stepping down as Chennaiyin’s head coach. Explaining his emotional statements from the night, the Englishman remarked, “Going into the Bengaluru game, I was very relaxed and very confident that we could get a result. I was very much on the floor after the match. They have always been our rivals. The fans had to travel five or six hours to get there. We didn’t really give them too much to shout about. I was really down after the game.”

Gregory then went on to point out the silver lining and revealed, “Since then we have picked each other up and got back to work and I think that is the biggest plus sign. The players were hurting as much as I was after that match and everybody is determined to get six points in the next two games which will then put us right back in the race.”

The 65-year-old also gave an update on the return of Jeje Lalpekhlua and said, “Jeje is coming back. He is making good progress every week, but he is still not ready for selection. He is definitely better than he was about a month ago. I had a long chat with him this morning. Occasionally he feels a little sore in the knees. He has been training with the squad and is very determined to get back. We don’t want to bring him back too early so that he has a relapse and we lose him again for three to four months. We are taking it slowly for the moment. Hopefully by December we can get him on the bench and then on the field because that can give him a little confidence.”

The head coach was joined by Chennaiyin captain Lucian Goian, who echoed his head coach’s comments and said, “After the defeat against Bengaluru, it was a difficult moment for all of us because we are in this situation, but we do not give up. It was the same when I was with Mumbai last season. Our confidence was down but then we started winning. We had a very good run and then qualified for the semis. I’m sure that we can do the same in Chennaiyin FC. We have the quality and what we need. We are just missing the goal. This is also a pressure for all of us but I’m sure that once we score our first goal, we will increase our confidence and be back on track.”

“Sometimes, in football, we have difficult moments. We can see the strong characters then. It isn’t easy for us as well. but we had a good week of training. We have an opportunity to get our first win at home in front of the fans and I hope this gives us a lot of confidence,” the defender added.

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