ISL Champions: John Gregory - We showed a lot of balls today

The Englishman became the first English coach to have won the Indian Super League title…

Chennaiyin FC picked up their second Indian Super League (ISL) at the expense of Bengaluru FC as they triumphed 3-2 at the Kanteerava Stadium, Bangalore on Saturday evening.

The Super Machans showed a lot of resilience as they came back from being a goal down to score twice in the first half through Mailson Alves. In the second half, Raphael Augusto scored the third of the evening for Chennaiyin while Miku netted a late consolation goal.

“When you go in at half-time and you are just taking the lead having been 1-0 behind, as a coach if you are losing, you know you got to score two.

“Big man (Alves) scored two goals this season in 20 games. But those two, he couldn’t have placed them any better. It certainly gave us a huge advantage. I have been on the opposite side, and it really deflates you.

“I basically told players to keep a clean sheet in the second half, simple as that. The third goal helped us to relax a bit more. We could have made it even better than 3-1. I believe the season has been a big success,” said the former Crawley Town coach.

Bengaluru FC started with three at the back with Subashish Bose being suspended. Despite having taken the lead, the home side struggled to create opportunities as their over dependence on Miku and Chhetri for goals was apparent.

“Albert (Roca) changed his line-up. Chhetri played a bit closer to Miku. They made it difficult for us as Nelson and Francis were playing in their own half. We just stuck to our game plan and trust me, that is hard work. They tried an all-out attack from the first minute but the players that we have, we will always get our chance. The likes of Nelson and Fernandes are good going forward. 

“We showed a lot of balls today to come back and win. We tend to not allow anything to get to us. To come and play here in their home ground was a big obstacle. The players are just an incredible bunch of players,” he mentioned.

Gregory also pointed that his captain Henrique Sereno was injured but still kept going until the final whistle which is only a highlight of how professional the Portuguese defender has been.

“Sereno had an injury at the start of second half and he just kept going, he has been amazing, he has played a real captain's role.We knew there were a good team and we just had to be alive all the time,” he said.

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Inigo Calderon made some crucial interceptions in the game and the Spaniard was awarded the Fittest Player of the Season. The 36-year-old has featured in 20 matches for the Chennai outfit and has three goals to his name.

“He has been everything I wanted him to be and more. I knew more about him than any other player in my squad because of his history at one of my former clubs Brighton and Hove Albion. He wants to be the best trainer. He will take on board that gives an extra percent of fitness. Whatever he can take that's legal, he will take it - hist diet, his fluid intake. He wants to give himself every chance. 

“I think he got the fittest player of the season award, I am sure he is happy to get it. Getting that award and that gold medal will be something that will make him want to stay for another 12 years. I hope we can convince to give us one more year,” he heaped praise on the Spaniard.