Chennai: John Gregory, the newly appointed Chennaiyin FC coach wants his boys to play the high-pressing game, when they take on FC Goa in their first match of the Indian Super League at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on Sunday.
“Keep the ball more on the floor and press-high,” is what he expects from his players and Jeje Lalpekhlua, one of the very few players to have played for a same franchise in the short history of the ISL echoed just this philosophy as the major difference between the past and present coach of the club.
“The difference between him (John Gregory) and Marco (Materazzi) is that we press a lot higher up the field. I will have to work harder, run more and press for the ball in the opponent’s half,” said Jeje.
Both the teams have had a great pre-season and the Englishman is excited to begin their campaign infront of the fabulous home crowd. “You’re expected to win the home games but the best teams win away from home. That’s where titles are won. If you can pick up points on the road, you’ve got a chance of winning (the league),” he stated before adding cautiuosly, “Tomorrow we’ll take a pragmatic approach. It is a long season and you have to keep focused.”
“But we want to win tomorrow for our fans who stood by us last season despite the poor run of results. We know it will be a great atmosphere tomorrow with the fans thronging in numbers and we want to reward them,” said the former Aston Villa manager.
Injury to his players are however always a setback for the club and he stated, “We’re in pretty good shape to be fair. We have 25 players in the squad. Unfortunately, for three weeks, we lost our international players – the four boys (Jeje Lalpekhlua, Germanpreet Singh, Jerry Lalrinzuala & Anirudh Thapa) who’ve been away with the national team. That has disrupted our stylem. He also added, “For the last three weeks, we lost some of our international players to national duty so that has disrupted some of our plans. Germanpreet Singh has come back (from national duty) with a bit of a knock, so he might not start the game,”excited to watch his Indian boys play.
Both the teams finished at the bottom last season and have come in with a new approach this time around. Chennai however leads the head to head battle between the two. But FC Goa new coach Sergio Lobera Rodriguez believes past won’t matter.
“You can’t compare two teams, which have two new coaches and sets of players based on previous encounters. I am just focused on Sunday’s match and looking forward to a good game,” said the former Barcelona reserves coach.
It is expected to be high-voltage clash when both the 2015 finalists face off each other in a bid to score and win this seaaons’ first match.