John Gregory would have hoped that the third break in the Indian Super League (ISL) season would possibly help them get over their poor run of form. However, that was not to be as they once again suffered a defeat, this time away to NorthEast United.
Despite making a host of changes to his line-up, Gregory lined up four foreigners as they are preparing for their AFC Cup campaign. The new signings of Halicharan Narzary and C.K.Vineeth too made their debuts for the southern outfit.
Apart from the opening 10 minutes, the Marina Machans struggled to make an impression in attack. It was a combination of Eli Sabia’s brilliance at the back and NorthEast United’s wastefulness upfront which ensured that the scoreline remained 0-0 until the 85th minute.
Bartholomew Ogbeche’s stunning strike ensured that the Highlanders take an important step in their quest for a play-off berth. The Nigerian too was callous and missed a couple of sitters in the tie.
After their game, Gregory praised NorthEast United’s performance but went on to make an audacious claim that his side could have nicked three points! He further stated that NorthEast United’s style and approach to a game is now known to almost every team in the league and hence, they could possibly struggle in their next matches.
"I think other teams will challenge NorthEast in the remaining games of the tournament. They are not a secret or a surprise anymore. So, they will find it difficult to pick up the points from now. But they might end up getting that late goal, like they did tonight. I did not even know he (Bartholomew Ogbeche) was playing. The ball just fell to him and he scored. I don’t think he will ever score a goal like that again. It was spectacular, Nigeria deserved to win the World Cup!" said the former Aston Villa coach.
Such a statement would have made sense had Chennaiyin FC managed to at least get a point from the match. For a team lying at the bottom of the table, who just suffered their tenth defeat of the season, shouldn’t comment on the weaknesses of a team against whom they just suffered a defeat.
Preparing for the AFC Cup campaign is fine but Gregory’s Chennaiyin FC must show some fight or gumption in order to avoid finishing as the wooden spooners.
For NorthEast, they need at least seven more points to qualify for their maiden play-offs. It looks like Ogbeche and co. are well and truly on course to make history this season.