Chennaiyin FC coach John Gregory announced that his side are ready for season five of the Indian Super League (ISL) as they gear up for their opening game against Bengaluru FC on September 30th. The former Aston Villa coach urged his players to not take any pressure on their shoulders and let their ability speak for itself as was witnessed in the final last season at the Kanteerava Stadium where they triumphed over Bengaluru FC.
“There is no pressure on us at all. We try as much as possible to focus on going out and playing football. There is no pressure. We just want the players to play freely. They are very focused just like last season, particularly the final where we had everything against us.
“We went to Bengaluru and the players were totally relaxed and let their ability to speak for them. So, there is no pressure on us whatsoever. We worked really hard in pre-season and we're ready,” said Gregory.
Hendry Antolay and Zonunmawia have been registered with the first team squad this season and Gregory explained the reasoning behind this decision.
“We look after the young players. We choose when it’s the right time to put them in the team. We could have added five or more players from the youth teams to the main squad but we thought they weren't ready. But the ones we have chosen, we believe can definitely force their way into the first team.
“As you know from last season, we have a fit squad and hence it is a difficult thing for me to choose my bench. These youngsters will learn a lot from these seniors in how to train, play, rest and eat. I would like to think many of them get minutes on the pitch,” he said.
Chennaiyin FC have strengthened their midfield by roping in 22-year-old Sinivasan Pandiyan, who hails from Thanjavur.
“We have seen a lot of promise in Pandiyan. Whether he gets into the team is down to him. We're happy to have him and he will learn a lot from working with the team. He has bright future from what we have seen in the pre-season. I give all youngsters a target of getting on the bench and then the pitch. I'm sure he will play at some point in the season,” explained the former Derby County boss.