Both the teams faced each other in last season’s final, with the Marina Machans coming up on top.
Bengaluru FC will open their Indian Super League 2018 campaign against defending champions Chennaiyin FC at Sree Kanteerava Stadium on Sunday evening. Ahead of the big game coaches from both the teams interacted with the media in their first pre-match press conference of the campaign.
John Gregory (Chennaiyin FC)
Gregory was a bit concerned about losing Dhanpal Ganesh
The Chennaiyin FC gaffer was the first one to interact with the press. The 64-year old looked very confident of his side and seemed ready to take the challenge of defending the title head on.
However, the Englishmen was a bit concerned about losing Dhanpal Ganesh. He said, “Obviously its a big miss for us losing somebody of his ability and his presence whenever he was in our team, he is not somebody who stays quiet on the pitch, he is involved in everything we do and obviously he played a huge part in us winning the ISL last season. So he is going to be missed but it gives an opportunity to someone else.”
Chennaiyin had a good outing at Kanteerava Stadium last season and when he was questioned about whether the past result will influence tomorrow’s game the coach replied, “No, I think we had the ability to come here and win on two occasions. We have another one. It’s good memories for us. Its been a lucky ground for us. We played two matches and won both. We come here without any fear.”
When he was questioned about whether he is going to play the same kind of football or has he made any tweaks to the style the Englishman said, “I have always encouraged my players to relax and just enjoy the football. Obviously, when you are winning matches you enjoy the game and you get rewards like last season but there is a lot of hard work behind it. My style won’t change that much. Defensively we were very strong last season.”
John Gregory further added, “Our team is very organized. We didn’t have the best players last season, but we had by far the best team. Right from the staff to players we have a fantastic bond between each other and we will help each other. We got a couple of foreign additions this year and we also signed some 5-6 good Indian players. Hopefully, my style won’t change from last season and hopefully, the result stays the same.”
When Gregory was questioned about how long Dhanpal will be out for he replied, “No, he is just not playing tomorrow. He wanted to play the first game. He was very desperate and he wanted us to just strap him up, but we said no that’s not an option. I guess he won’t be available for the first five matches.”
“When we talk about fans we are fortunate that we have fans come here and come to Kerala. Some other away matches it is little difficult logistically and financially for them to travel so far. We love it, when he came here for the last two matches we had a lot of our fans here. It creates a fantastic atmosphere. We love the banter with the opposing fans. We were lucky that we gave them a good result here last time. Let’s hope the players will turn up tomorrow night as well.”
Carles Cuadrat(Bengaluru FC)
The new gaffer of Bengaluru FC, Carles Cuadrat who was working with the team as assistant manager till last season seemed confident of his side repeating what they did last campaign. When questioned about how his team is functioning he replied, “Things are a bit different from the last season. We really have been growing a lot and we are happy. I know the squad and the players are ready to start the competition.”
“It’s the opening game of the season. It means that there will be a lot of expectations from the home fans. We understand that. For us, these three points are very important.” the Spaniard said when questioned about how important the first game is.
“Of course it is the repeat of the previous season’s final, but we see it as the opening game of the season. We have studied them, but are going to focus more on ourselves and how we can use our strengths against them.” added the tactician.
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Chennaiyin FC will be missing Dhanpal Ganesh for at least the first five games as per their coach. The Rest of the squad is in the best possible shape.
Bengaluru FC have no such injury issues and will be entering the new season with a fully fit squad.
Did You Know?
- Both the teams won away fixtures against each other last season during the league stage.
- Bengaluru FC scored second most goals (40 goals), just behind FC Goa.
- Courtesy of their title win last year, Chennaiyin FC has replaced Bengaluru FC as the representative of India in AFC cup.
The match will take place tomorrow at 7:30 PM, at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium. On television, the match will be live on Star Sports. Meanwhile, it will also be streamed on Hotstar and Jio TV.