Chennaiyin FC managed an away goal in their 1-1 draw with FC Goa in the first leg of the Indian Super League (ISL) playoff Goa on Saturday.
FC Goa scored first through Manuel Lanzarote and Anirudh Thapa came off the bench to equalise.
“When I look at the opportunities that we had, we could have gone home with a 3-0 advantage,” said Chennaiyin FC head coach John Gregory.
He added, “We had clear one-on-one opportunities and to be fair to (Laxmikant) Kattimani, he made some very good saves and his team should thank him very much for the saves that he made. He certainly kept the tie alive right up till we managed to get a goal.
“We were disappointed in many respects. I’ll have to talk to my players to get their chins off their chest because we were disappointed with the chances that we had and we didn’t take them. At the end of the match, I was very happy to come away with the one goal.”
On his team’s defensive solidity, he commented, “We showed a lot of respect to Lanza (Manuel Lanzarote) and Coro (Ferran Corominas). The goals that they have scored this season, many of them have been very spectacular goals and together they have a very good understanding – very similar to (Emiliano) Alfaro and Marcelinho at Pune (FC Pune City).”
“Having said that, both Mailson (Alves) and (Henrique) Sereno did a great job up against them (Lanzarote and Coro) when we came here in the regular season and did exactly the same tonight. Lanza managed to score after getting on the end of a block in the six yards box and had an easy opportunity to put in the net, but defensively we are very aware of them and we do tend to pay a little bit more attention to them than the other strikers in the ISL.
“Goa are a very difficult team to play against and we know that we have our work cut off on Tuesday night.”
The former Crawley Town manager did concede that Goa’s attack was superior to his teams’. “We are just not as creative as Goa. Our players work in a good system where they work very hard for each other and we get the best out of each player in whatever positions they play.
“Goa are a passing team. They pass from the goalkeeper right across the back four. Everybody is comfortable in possession of the ball. We are still rebuilding our team. We play in a slightly different way than Goa do, but nevertheless we make it difficult for Goa to play against us.
“We have got some good flashes of brilliance. You saw that from (Gregory) Nelson. He created opportunities for himself tonight and he was absolutely devastated that he didn’t score. It seemed to bother him for the rest of the match. And then suddenly he picks the ball in the middle, goes past a few players and as soon as it went to (Anirudh) Thapa, he knew it was definitely going to hit the target. It’s a priceless away goal for us.”
Out of the 25 goals they have tallied this season, Chennaiyin have scored a whopping 19 in the second half. On this, the 63-year-old stated, “It’s just something that tends to happen to us. We are a fit team. We have good endurance and we just keep going. We didn’t play as well as we have tonight.
“A lot of the time, Goa played football better than we did today and we were just a little bit off the pace. Footballing wise, we didn’t pass the ball as I would have liked it to be done. My team has the attitude to keep going until it’s over. We have a never-say-die-attitude,” he signed off.