AFC Cup 2019: John Gregory - We control our own destiny

Minerva Punjab
The Chennaiyin boss is confident that his team will win the rest of the matches and make it to the knock-out stage of the AFC Cup…

Chennaiyin FC will hope to retain their position at the top of Group E when they face Minerva Punjab FC in their fifth match of the AFC Cup 2019 in Guwahati.

After a dismal campaign in the Indian Super League (ISL) this year, the Marina Machans came back strongly in the Super Cup and AFC Cup. They finished runners-up in the domestic knock-out competition and are at the top of the Group table after four rounds in the continental tournament.

Chennaiyin had suffered a 3-2 defeat in their last game against Abahani Dhaka and will be lookinh to bounce back with a win against the I-League side.

Speaking about their preparation, coach John Gregory said, “The mood is very good in the camp. It has been a bit strange as everyone else is on vacation but we're back, continuing our training. But we wouldn't have it any other way, to be honest, being involved in the AFC Cup.

“We have two important games coming up against Minerva (Punjab) and Manang (Marshyangdi) in Nepal. The professionalism that my boys have portrayed is first class. And they are all aware of the task at hand.”

The English coach, who recently extended his stay at the club for one more year, is confident that his team will make it to the knockout stages.

Chennaiyin vs Abahani AFC Cup

Gregory said, “We certainly know what is at stake. To be honest, we have faced a number of challenges in this competition. We weren't able to play in our home stadium in Chennai. That was also something we have had to overcome. And it is also a challenge, with the gaps between matches.

“So despite everything, given the position we are in, if we win our two remaining group matches, we 100 per cent qualify for the knockout round. What is great is that it is in our hands. We control our destiny. Win two matches and we qualify.”

The Chennaiyin gaffer acknowledged the fact that fatigue will be a problem for the players as it has been an extremely long season for the club but remains confident of winning the rest of the matches and qualifying for the next round.

“Everyone is in good shape. Our season is still going on. We've been together since August last year and it has been a challenging journey. One of my boys Anirudh Thapa has been playing continuously for the last two years with us and the national team, without much of a break with all the travel," he said.

“It isn't easy, but this is what we want to do and are paid to do. And if we qualify for the knockout round, it will be a fantastic achievement and moment for everyone at the club,” the British coach added.