Chennai: After registering their first victory of the season, a rejuvenated Chennaiyin FC looks to continue the winning momentum when they meet Odisha FC, here Thursday.
The two-time ISL champions were winless after failing to score in the first four games. Against Hyderabad FC on Monday, strikers Andre Schembri and Nerijus Valskis found the back of the net within seconds during the extra time to clinch a thriller and broke the goalless streak much to the delight of the home crowd.
Speaking on the eve of their match against Odisha FC Gregory said he always believed that his strikers could score. “I have never had any doubts. I knew a lot about Schembri and Valskis, about their ability to score goals, and how good footballers they are. They showed it in the training and in the practice matches. But it wasn’t happening in the ISL. I always have an affinity towards my players when they go through difficult times. With both Andre and Nerijus, I tried to give a bit of confidence and in the last match, Andre created a chance to score by himself and when Valskis got the opportunity, he just composed himself and made sure he finishes the goal and he made it look very simple. They both showed their quality. I hope this is the start of many more goals to follow.”
Gregory also said that the win against Hyderabad FC gave them a different feeling as it gave happiness to a lot of people connected with the club. “It’s incredible. I never believed too much in the psychology that goes with the sport. The fans reaction was quite amazing as I hadn’t heard the stadium so noisy ever since we beat Goa in the playoff semi-finals. The noise of the crowd after the final whistle was quite incredible and coming back to the hotel, every staff has come up to the players and support staff to congratulate us on the victory. I hope my players will understand what the victory means to so many people committed to the club and we want to do it once again.”
Having played five matches in the season so far, Chennaiyin is placed at the ninth position in the table just above Hyderabad FC. When asked about his club’s positives and negatives so far, he said, “Biggest positive is, the players continuously rolled up their sleeves in every match, not becoming too disheartened by the results as getting into the playoffs is still a big possibility. We just want to win matches and I am happy with the way that we are playing. I have been pleased with a lot of things happening on the field and I want it to continue. Obviously not scoring in the first four games was the biggest negative we faced which is unusual I am delighted that we have finally scored a goal and won.”
Gregory also compared the fighting spirits of his team with the old Chennaiyin FC. ‘We had a team in season two that never gave up. We lost six matches that season out of 14 but still managed to get into the playoffs and win the trophy. In season 4 we had that same attitude and we kept going. The other night it was a little bit more like the old Chennaiyin which was pleasing. We must keep believing that the game is never over till it’s over.”