A 68th minute Jeje Lalpekhlua strike in the second leg of their AFC Cup qualifier against Sri Lanka-based Colombo FC, on Wednesday, put Chennaiyin FC through to the group stage of the 2019 AFC Cup. Raphael Augusto, Isaac Vanmalsawma and Thoi Singh were the stand-out performers for the home team.
ISL defending champions, Chennaiyin FC, had a miserable domestic season as the group stage matches were concluded a few weeks ago. John Gregory’s squad failed to make the play-off stage and found themselves at the bottom of the ISL table after they managed to beat high-flyers Bengaluru FC in the final during the 2017 season. However, the Chennai-based team have managed to secure a spot in the group stages of this year’s AFC Cup after they registered a 1-0 aggregate win over Sri Lanka’s Colombo FC in the qualifier.
Gregory's boys hadn't found the back of the net in any of their last four matches, so they must be relieved to have gotten a positive result last night especially in front of the home crowd. While Jeje will be relieved that he eventually sealed the deal for his team, Raphael Augusto, Isaac Vanmalsawma and Thoi Singh were the stand-out players for Chennai. Jeje and former Kerala Blasters striker CK Vineeth were largely guilty for failing to capitalize on countless crosses early on in the game but once they scored that elusive goal, the home team sat back deep in their half and enjoyed some good possession play with the ball.
"I am glad that Jeje could score and make a telling impact. He got a bit more help today. We played CK Vineeth in an attacking role alongside. It was much better for Jeje to have someone like Vineeth to share the workload. Both Thoi and Isaac also worked very hard offensively and defensively. Our confidence has not been the highest. We should have won 3-0 in the end. We missed a few chances. I don't care, though, that it was only 1-0. We have qualified for the group stages. That is what matters," John Gregory told TOI after the game.
Cricket FootBall Kabaddi