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ISL Media

Gregory eyeing clean sheet, Lobera determined to deliver strong display

The winner will be proceeding to the ISL final to face Bengaluru FC.

Chennaiyin FC host FC Goa in the second leg of the second semi-final of Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2017-18 at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Chennai on Tuesday. The home team has a slight advantage going into this game, having secured a 1-1 draw and a crucial away goal in the first leg at Goa. Chennai’s defence though will have to be wary in the second leg and brace themselves to take on a free-scoring Goa outfit, who’ll head into the encounter with an attacking mindset.

Addressing the media at the pre-match press conference was their head coach John Gregory and he admitted that although his team could have had a bigger advantage, he was satisfied with the score-line they came away with from Goa. “We go into the game having worked exceptionally hard the other night, and I think deserved the outcome,” he remarked. “They were some clear-cut chances in the game that we should have taken, and really should be coming into this one with a numerical advantage in terms of goals. But it was a hard-earned draw.”

The Englishman doesn’t believe that the away goal gives them any major advantage ahead of the second leg. “The away goal is really a very minimal advantage,” stated Gregory. “It is not something I would spend a lot of time thinking about. Obviously, if we keep a clean sheet we go through. But, should they score, it would change the whole complexion of the game.”

Speaking about their opponents, he mentioned that Chennai knew what to expect in the second leg. “They (FC Goa) are a team that relies on natural football,” inferred Gregory. “And to match them, we have to be defensively very solid. The way they pass the ball is kind of ingrained in them. It is up to the opposition to try and stop them and get the ball from them. So, we are very aware of the job we have to do tomorrow night. If we get a clean sheet, we go through. So, that will be our first priority.”

Chennaiyin’s top scorer this season Jeje Lalpekhlua has failed to find the back of the net in the last few games, but their head coach remained supportive of the forward. “I just keep supporting him (Jeje),” said Gregory. “He has saved us and won us matches on many occasions this season. He has this ability that at any given stage, he’ll come up with the goods. And he’s usually done it when we have really needed a goal from someone and I still have got huge amount of faith in him.”


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FC Goa travel to the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Chennai on Tuesday to take on Chennaiyin FC in the second leg of the second semi-final of Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2017-18. The Gaurs conceded an away goal in the 1 – 1 draw against their opponents in the first leg and need to score in the return leg to stand a chance of qualifying for the final.

Speaking to the media at the pre-match press conference was their head coach Sergio Lobera, and he maintained that while scoring was their strength, it has often led to them conceding goals. “We have some of the top scorers in the league, and obviously the highest scorer in the league,” he stated. “It is also true that the effort we put in trying to go forward and score also leads to us conceding goals.”

The Spaniard mentioned the importance of not depending on one player to get results. “We have scored more than conceding, and two of our players are in the top in the goal-scoring charts,” Lobera said. “But it would be wrong to completely focus on one player to win the game. Because in this competition, players do not individually win matches, it is the team.”

Before concluding, the 41-year-old revealed how his team would approach the game. “We need to play how we have been playing; whatever makes us strongest,” Lobera explained. “Tomorrow we will go out there to win the game. We know we are playing against a tough team. But it is our football that makes us strongest.”

Published: Tue Mar 13, 2018 10:53 AM IST

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