Ahead of their AFC Cup game against Manang Marshyangdi, John Gregory has stated that nothing less than a win will matter for Chennaiyin FC now. Gregory has also added that the team knows that the game is going to be a tough one but the players are quite used to the pressure situations.
Former ISL champions Chennaiyin FC will face Manang Marshyangdi from Nepal in their last league game in Lalitpur, Nepal, with an aim to win the match and qualify for the knockout stages of the AFC Cup. With eight points from five games, the Tamil Nadu-based ISL side is at the second position on the Group E points table that is topped by Abahani Dhaka from Bangladesh.
Chennaiyin FC will also have high hopes from another Indian side Minerva Punjab to ensure at least a draw against the Dhaka-based club. If Chennaiyin and Abahani end on same points then the ISL team will go through on the virtue of better head-to-head record. According to the AFC Cup format, only one team can qualify for the semi-finals from Group E.
Chennaiyin coach John Gregory stressed on the importance of the game and also talked about the amount of pressure that will be there on the players during the must-win game for the side.
“It’s a very important game for us, nothing less than a win matters. The focus and attention is on getting three points and nothing else. And we have to hope the other result goes our way, in the game between Abahani Limited and Minerva Punjab,” Gregory said at the pre-match conference, reported PTI.
“Manang lost 5-0 in the last game and will have a point to prove. We know we face a tough game. We are quite used to pressure. A lot is at stake. Qualification to the knockout stage up for grabs.”
In the first leg of the tournament, it was the Indian side that had got the better of Manang by 2-0 after goals from Chris Herd and Mailson Alves. According to the coach, the team has not played a lot on an artificial turf on which they will be playing in Lalitpur on Wednesday.
“We have not played a match as such on an artificial pitch. We did train at the Bangalore Football Stadium during the ISL season. But this will be a new experience for our players,” the Chenaiyin head coach explained.
"It’s good that we get to practice at the match venue today. From personal experience too, it is difficult and a challenge to play on such an artificial turf. You get a different kind of bounce on it. For the home team, I’m sure they will be used to it. Let us hope we deal with it well.”
Gregory also spoke about the long season that the ISL side is having so far. He also said that he had once had a word with the former Bengaluru FC coach Albert Roca about the same. “It has been a long, long season. I spoke to Albert Roca at Bengaluru FC last season, who was in a similar situation. He advised me on the disadvantages of playing through the summer and on maintaining the focus and keeping everyone fit.
“Everyone needs to be kept motivated. Sometimes, games come along thick and fast and sometimes they don’t. Even boredom needs to be guarded against. But most importantly, everyone is looking forward to winning the match and then a break,” Gregory concluded.
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