Gregory sings praises of ‘complete’ Mumbai ahead of daunting tie

Defending champions, Chennaiyin FC travel west to take on in-form Mumbai City FC at the Mumbai Football Arena on Thursday. The Marina Machans come into the fixture without any real momentum or form as a place in the playoffs looks more unlikely with each passing match. Having registered just a single win from 10 matches so far, John Gregory’s men will have more than a point to prove when they attempt to get the better of the Islanders in their own backyard.

The Englishman spoke to the media in his pre-match press conference and had some positive team news to share. “Everyone’s okay. We have one player who is sick. It’s not a football injury but it’s just a sickness that he has, so he’s stayed behind in Chennai. Everyone else is okay. All fit and raring to go,” Gregory said.

The Islanders look like a rejuvenated side since their 5-0 defeat away to FC Goa, having lost none and won four of their five subsequent fixtures. Gregory though felt Mumbai’s last win in Delhi was a fortunate one and suggested that the Dynamos deserved more from the game. “They (Mumbai) were little bit fortunate in Delhi. I thought Delhi played well the other night. They remind me of us when I watch them play. Delhi made a lot of chances. Should have scored more goals and probably should have been ahead at halftime,” Gregory insisted.

He continued: “Then they (Mumbai) had a freak own goal. It hit the Delhi defender on the head and has just flown into the top corner which was an absolute fluke. And that’s the kind of thing that’s been happening to us. So, I saw a lot of us in Delhi’s play the other night. But in the second half, Mumbai played very well and ended up winning the game. They are very tough defensively. And they remind me of us from last year. So, we know we have a tough game on our hands.”

The Chennaiyin coach, however, failed to identify a weak link in the Mumbai side and has been particularly impressed by the cohesiveness in the Islanders’ style of play. “I think generally all over the team, it’s a fairly well-balanced team. I like Arnold Issoko down the right-hand side. Big strong lad, very difficult to shake off the ball. Through the team, there is a lot of strength. I like the captain (Paulo Machado). He’s been outstanding this season. Scored the other night. I think he’s had a good season for them. Just generally, they’ve got a good balance to the team. There’s no particular weak area. They’re just a well-balanced team. They complement each other. They play as a team. That’s the beauty of Mumbai,” Gregory said.

The 64-year-old was also effusive in his praise of opposite number, Jorge Costa. “You can sometimes concern yourself too much with the tactical side as a coach. When you’ve got the ball, there’s no real system. When you haven’t got the ball, you need to get it back. Generally, Jorge has got it right in what he’s doing because they’re winning football matches. He must be doing something right. With the position that they are in right now in the league table suggests that he’s doing a very good job. Its going to be a tough game for us tomorrow night,” Gregory remarked.

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