CHENNAI: The Indian Super League, Chennaiyin FC coach John Gregory had said last week, comes at you fast. That has certainly been the case for Chennaiyin FC this season. It’s not even been a week since they started their campaign. Yet, on Wednesday, they’ll march out for their third game.
It seems ridiculous to say this after just a week, but Gregory needs to get some momentum going fast. Chennaiyin are yet to score and yet to win. ATK at home on Wednesday is perhaps the best place to start. Things are only going to get tougher after this. Their next game sees them travelling to Bengaluru to take on the defending champions.
“It is important that we stay in the race and the performance against Mumbai was very pleasing,” said Gregory on Wednesday. “Obviously, if you pick up a good result tomorrow and then in Bengaluru, it gives you momentum but you have to cope with whatever is in front of you.”
Of great concern for Gregory will be the inability of his forwards to find goals. While their opener — a 0-3 reverse against FC Goa — saw them be on the backfoot for most of the game, they had multiple chances to score in the 0-0 draw against Mumbai. Had Chennaiyin’s forwards taken their chances, they might have ended up with three or four goals on Sunday.
Chennaiyin are on a five-match goalless run — the last time they scored in the league was in February last season against Bengaluru FC. But Gregory maintains that things have got a lot better since last season. “We did everything but score the other night (against Mumbai),” he said.
“We had a lot of chances. We had 18 shots on goal. Not all on target but we had the chances to score. I am bewildered that we did not score after we created a lot of chances. Their keeper made an outstanding save from Rafael (Crivellaro). I am pleased with that side of our game. Nerka (Nerijus Valskis) had a couple of chances as well. There were periods last year where we were not even creating chances. We are doing it now though.”
Their defence, too, will have to be on their toes considering ATK are landing in Chennai after a 5-0 demolition of Hyderabad FC. The two-time champions, reunited with Antonio Lopez Habas — the Spanish coach who led them to the title in the first-ever ISL season — put in a good shift against Kerala Blasters in their opener as well. A 1-2 loss in Kochi was arguably a result they did not deserve. The Kolkata outfit will go top of the table if they win against Chennaiyin.
“We are relatively new playing together at the back,” Gregory said. “We put Tondonba (Singh) at the back after the Goa game. We played well. But we need to be careful with the pace (ATK forwards David) Williams and (Roy) Krishna have. We need to be switched on at all times. ATK tend to start games well, which was evident in both the games they have played.”
Tuesday’s result: Jamshedpur FC 3 (F Choudhary 34’, A Jadhav 62’, Sergio Castel 75’) Hyderabad FC 1 (M Leite Pereira 45+1’).