ISL 2017: Chennaiyin FC head coach John Gregory wary of NorthEast United's set-piece prowess

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The head coach of the Super Machans can't wait to notch their first points of the Indian Super League season.....

As Chennaiyin FC get ready to host NorthEast United FC on Thursday in what is their second game of the ongoing Indian Super League (ISL) season, head coach John Gregory feels the match has come at the right time for the South Indian outfit. 

Though there has been only three days of gap between Chenaniyin's opener against Goa, a 3-2 reverse at home, Gregory can't wait to get back on the field and get the team's first points on board. 

"First thing you want to do after a loss is get back on the field and put it right," he told reporters at the pre-match press conference. "Thankfully, we get our chance very quickly.

"It cant come quick enough. The game has come along at the right time." 

Gregory GFX

The English coach went on to assess his opponents from the North-East, terming them a physical side with very strong with set-piece attributes. 

"We saw their (NorthEast United) first game against Jamshedpur FC and they do have some weaknesses. But they have big strengths also. They were very good against Jamshepur and their goalkeeper (Subrata Paul) had to make several good saves.

"They are a big side physically and we need to be aware of their set pieces. They take very good set pieces," said Gregory. 

"Our team was nervous in the first game against Goa on Sunday. There were a lot of nerves in our side, against FC Goa. We've got that out of the way, and I'd like to think my team will have a better idea this time around." 

When reminded that NorthEast United have never been beaten in Chennai in the previous three seasons, Gregory was optimistic that the time had come for the record to be broken.

"Records are there to be broken and statistics come up all the time. For example, I think Jeje (lalpekhlua) has scored the most goals against FC Pune City and we have that game coming up (after NorthEast Untied game). NorthEast might not have lost here but eventually it has to happen." 

Raphael Augusto Chennaiyin FC FC Goa ISL season 4 2017/2018

The 63-year-old eased concerns over the fitness of star midfielder Rapahel Augusto and also confirmed that Germanpreet Singh, who missed the FC Goa game with a niggle, is back in contention for selection. 

"Germanpreet (Singh) is fit. He has recovered after picking up a knock during his time with the national team. We always thought he had enough time for the NorthEast United game. He is back in training," the coach shared. 

"Raphael (Augusto) was a doubt going into the Goa game. He wanted to play badly and played his heart out. He's a competitor he will be available for selection tomorrow." 

After admitting that he erred with his choice of formation against FC Goa last Sunday, which saw the Gaurs score three goals in the first half, Gregory remained coy on whether he will start with the formation he used in the second half on Sunday. 

"We'll have to wait and see but I certianly wasn't happy with the starting formation the other night. We looked a balanced team in the second half after changing the shape. We continued with three central defenders who did not have much to do in the second half. We created a lot of chances with that shape. We'll have to wait and see (about tomorrow's starting eleven)," he analysed. 

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Gregory also felt that there were no favourites going into any game in the ISL , given the volatile nature of performances of teams through the seasons. 

"Any team on any given day can beat anyone else in ISL. There's not a lot to choose between teams. Sometimes, teams are erratic and sometimes they are brilliant. That's ISL in a nutshell.

"In our game on Sunday, Goa were excellent in the first 30 minutes and then we put pressure on them and dominated them. That is what ISL has been all about over the years," Gregory concluded. 
 

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