Chennaiyin FC's head coach John Gregory hailed goalscorers Andre Schembri and Nerijus Valskis, who helped Chennaiyin for their first win of the season against Hyderabad FC, at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Chennai on Monday. The Englishman further revealed Chennaiyin's plan to reach the playoffs.
Former champions, Chennaiyin FC ended their seven matches goal-scoring drought and scored two goals in the injury time to win a breathtaking encounter with Hyderabad FC 2-1 at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on Monday in Chennai. John Gregory’s boys missed many chances throughout the match but took the lead with substitute Andre Schembri's goal in the injury time.
The visitors, however, pulled one back immediately through a Mathew Kilgallon header before they were once again left behind as Lithuanian Nerijus Valskis scored a beautiful goal in the final minute of the stoppage time. Chennaiyin FC's head coach John Gregory is delighted and hailed his goal scorers Schembri and Valskis.
“Andre (Schembri) and Nerijus (Valskis), those two in particular, you see them on the training ground, they score goals on regular occasions. They’re such good finishers. I’ve been somewhat shocked that in the four games, they haven’t managed to get a goal between them. But they’ve persevered at it. Andre took his goal very well, and Nerijus showed quality. And that was the reason why I bought both him and Andre because I know they can score goals. I just hope for the pair of them and the team, this is the start of more goals to come, and more victories,” John Gregory said at the post-match conference, ISL website reported.
Chennaiyin tried hard in the 90 minutes to score their first goal of the season, however, with poor finishing they missed numerous chances. “We had a lot of chances, a lot of possession, and a lot of half-chances in the box. (Lallianzuala) Chhangte got in some very good positions in the first half in particular but was never able to pick out a striker in the box. We hit the post. It just looked like it was going to carry on like it has been, being so close yet so far.” he added.
The Englishman, who won the ISL with Chennaiyin in his first season, expressed his happiness with the players to end the winless streak. “I’m pleased for the players. They put in a lot of hard work. I get very frustrated sometimes when we play some good football and get into the last third of the pitch, and then suddenly someone crosses the ball behind the goal. I always want it to be perfect. Today we deserved the victory without any question, but I wish it had been a little bit more comfortable.”
Gregory then went onto praise Chennaiyin co-owner, Vita Dani. “I feel pleased for Vita, because she’s been tremendously supportive of me and the players during this really tough time. This is her sixth season. She rarely misses a match, both home and away. That doesn’t happen a lot even in Europe. It’s easy to be supportive when the team’s winning. She’s always been there. She never goes missing,” he said.
The 65-year-old also revealed his plan to take Chennaiyin’s to the playoffs and views the Odisha on Thursday as very crucial “We are aiming for the playoffs. That’s where we want to be. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t get into the playoffs. We looked at Season 2 when we actually lost six matches out of 14, but we won seven. I think we finished third. That’s possible for us. It was a good result for us on Sunday, with Odisha only getting a draw with ATK. It keeps everybody within range. The Hyderabad result is very important, but Thursday’s result will be more important,” he concluded.
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