The Marina Machans are currently at the top of Group E with seven points from three games.
Chennaiyin FC cemented the pole position in Group E of the AFC Cup after a slender 1-0 win against Abahani Dhaka on Tuesday night, when Anirudh Thapa scored in the 79th minute. After the game, both coaches met the press to talk about the match.
Speaking to the media, Abahani Dhaka head coach Mario Lemos voiced his thoughts about the game saying, “It was a good game, defensively we were very compact, we were very organized, didn’t allow them to play through the centre. We had our chances over the course of the game, but unfortunately failed to convert our chances.”
When asked about his team’s failure to convert their physical advantage into goals he pointed out, “We didn’t want any central midfielders to play the ball, what we wanted was Chennaiyin to play through the wings, but I don’t think it was much difference. In the second half, we were tired and they made some smart substitutions.”
The visitors’ head coach was asked if it was a bit too much for the team to concede a goal after playing so well. He smirked, “It was definitely too much for me. I guess that’s where Bangladesh football is missing that extra bit of quality. If we were calm on the ball we could’ve finished a couple of chances. We made silly mistakes against Punjab and paid the price and today too we made a silly mistake.”
Talking about turning things around in Dhaka, the 34-year-old confidently quipped, “Yes, we can get the result in Dhaka for sure in the return fixture.”
Although Chennaiyin head coach John Gregory was happy with the result, he looked displeased by the way his side played.
“Delighted to get a win here, we knew we will be facing a good side like Dhaka. At the start of the game, we were sloppy a bit, but I knew we will be a better side as the game progresses because the efforts these guys have put in the training sessions and the team spirit was immense and that is what keeps us going and was clearly visible on the pitch,” the Englishman elaborated.
When asked about the defensive solidity his side had managed in spite of the long throws directed in the penalty box Gregory said, “We knew there were going to be many long throws directed towards us, but credit to Mailson (Alves), Eli (Sabia) and Karanjit (Singh) who dealt with it really well and didn’t give any chance to opposition.”
Talking about injury concerns Gregory revealed, “Yes Chris (Herd) has been carrying an injury for a long time now. After he suffered a knock he still wanted to continue, but the physio gave me a signal to force a substitution and we risked bringing on Germanpreet (Singh) for Chris.”
He was then asked if the conditions are going to be hard in the away games and replied, “Yes, the conditions are going to be hard. In Nepal, we would be playing on plastic pitches, so it will be a test for us. We don’t know yet where Minerva (Punjab) is playing, but before the Nepal game (last group game) we would like to qualify for knockouts.”
Asked if he would stay for the coming season if they qualify for the knockouts he answered, “We have three more games to go, our prime objective is to qualify for knockouts and will see what happens,” he concluded.