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AFC Cup 2019: John Gregory - Chennaiyin won't underestimate Minerva Punjab

9:05 PM MYT 02/04/2019
John Gregory Chennaiyin FC
Two Indian clubs will meet in the group stage of the 2019 AFC Cup in Ahmedabad...

Ahmedabad is set to witness two Indian clubs going head-to-head in Group E of the 2019 AFC Cup on Wednesday.

2017-18 I-League champions will take on 2017-18 Indian Super League (ISL) champions Chennaiyin FC at the Transstadia. After a sub-par title-defending campaign by both teams, the head coaches are looking forward to making an impact in Asia.

"We have prepared ourselves very well for this match and we will be going all out. The goalscoring has been an issue for us. We have got in Samuel (Lalmuanpuia) for that. We have good foreign players and the Indian players are getting back into form now," Minerva Punjab's Sachin Badadhe said.

"As far as I'm concerned, the platform (Asia) is only for two teams. The team which wins will go through mostly and hopefully it is like that. But it is good for the country as we will be playing teams from other countries."

Chennaiyin head coach John Gregory said, "It is obviously my first experience playing against Minerva. They won the I-League last year and had a fantastic season .They deserve the opportunity of playing in the AFC Cup. We enjoyed ourselves against Colombo. It is a fantastic pitch and stadium.

"I don't underestimate the challenge that we have against Minerva. Similar to us, it has not gone well for them but it is a tough game. We are also not underestimating the other two teams as well.

"They are different kind of opposition as well. We have to travel to them. I know how difficult that can be. But it is a tough game for us to start with. We have enjoyed the last couple of matches - against Colombo and in the Super Cup. Jeje and Vineeth are playing well. The boys are working hard, have a smile on their faces and this is an opportunity to finish this season on a positive note."

Chennaiyin faced bakclash from the fans for shifting their base from Chennai to Ahmedabad for the AFC Cup matches. John Gregory is not too worried about the decision as it is out of his hands.

"For us, we don't have decisions on where we play. We just do what we've been told. We are in a good place mentally, physically. Where we play is not down to the players or staff. We have no choice on that matter. We enjoyed playing here last time. It was pleasing to see so many of our fans here last time. Hopefully the same group will be here too. It is not easy for them and we appreciate the lengths that they've gone to. 

"We just get on with things. We are pretty well looked after as a team, logistically and travel wise. We are appreciative of the situation that we are in. It is down to the likes of myself and the medical team to do the right things. It is not easy to do this when you're juggling two competitions. But there are 17 other clubs who want to be in our spot. We are proud and honoured to be playing the competition. "

Dhanpal Ganesh returned to the fray for Chennaiyin in their Super Cup game against Mumbai City and the English coach is glad to have crucial players back in the team.

"We have Ganesh and Jerry (Lalrinzuala) back in full training. They are still not 100% fit. Have those two back in the team is very important. Having both of them in the team gives me two extra quality players. There's a real good atmosphere amongst us. I'm holding them back to be honest. They are raring to go. 

"We were expected to beat Colombo. But there was a bit of relaxed atmosphere amongst the boys. CK and Jeje both scored in the last match and now there is a healthy competition for places in the squad. So, everyone's performing very well," he signed off.