Chennaiyin FC have endured their worst campaign till date this season as they finished at the bottom of the Indian Super League (ISL) table with less than 10 points to show for their efforts from 18 games.
Coach John Gregory has already announced his intention to part ways with the club as his contract expires at the end of the season. However, the English stated that in hindsight, he should have quit after winning the ISL last term.
“What we're concerned about it is about our club. I'm sad we've had a poor season. You are judged on your league season. The best team always wins the league and our ISL season has been poor. The returns and the lack of goals have been poor. I'm determined to go through to the group stages of the AFC Cup. I should have gone last summer but hopefully I can leave in a better frame of mind,” said Gregory.
He pointed that his side didn’t really create many scoring opportunities and whatever they did, the strikers didn’t convert them.
“Lack of goals is always a concern. We weren't great goalscorers last season too. Jeje has found it tough this time. All four teams who qualified for the playoffs have great goalscorers. Sogou, Coro, Miku and Ogbeche were outstanding. It was a problem for us and the same with Jamshedpur. If they had a goalscorer they would have gone through. We've not had a good amount of chances created for Jeje too,” he observed.
Chennaiyin FC struggled to create opportunities in the first leg of the play-off against Colombo FC with the finl score reading 0-0. Gregory suggested that his side have done well defensively in the last few matches.
“As footballers, you carry on doing what you do. Everyone's working hard. We want success in the two cup competitions (AFC Cup and Super Cup) we have left. Dressing room atmosphere is fantastic and the players are focusing on the job.
“Obviously when we played Bengaluru FC, it was a good football match. We've had success against them and to beat them was a good team performance. It was a positive for us. We then had a good game against Jamshedpur. We had a good game in Goa too. It was a good team performance. Defensively we've been strong in the last four matches. We come into this game with more confidence,” said the experienced coach.
He also shared his thoughts on Colombo FC and warned his players against taking the opponents lightly.
“They have won three back-to-back titles. They are used to winning. They had a fantastic result against Transport United. They were unplayable in the first game. We had a high temperature in Colombo. The pitch was also a problem for us. It was tough for us. A lot of our players suffered. One (Anirudh Thapa) of us got concussion. We kept a cleansheet and it was important.
“They are the champions of their country. They made it really hard for us. We were happy to come away without conceding. Yes, confidence is not flowing in our team but we need to use the excellent pitch and conditions here and we are geared up for it."