ISL 2019-20: Chennaiyin's woes a 'choker' for John Gregory

Chennaiyin FC head coach John Gregory was frustrated by the way his team failed to convert its chances in the 0-1 loss to ATK on Wednesday.

John Gregory was perplexed with his team's inability to score a goal.   -  ISL/Sportzpics

It’s not been an ideal start to the new season of the Indian Super League (ISL) for Chennaiyin FC. Three games in seven days against tough oppositions has yielded just a solitary point with no goals scored. Wednesday's home defeat has stretched Chennaiyin's goal drought to six ISL matches, its last goal coming in February.

After the 0-1 defeat to ATK, head coach John Gregory cut a sorry figure on the dais, seemingly lost for words at the beginning of the press conference. At least this season, it hasn’t been for the lack of creating opportunities to find the goal. “Yup, you have seen the game,” said Gregory, usually elaborate with his responses, when pointed out that it was another day of chances floundered.

“It’s very frustrating for me to sit here and talk about the game which we dominated. We have ourselves to blame for not taking the opportunities. It was much like the Mumbai (City FC) game. ATK rarely got out of their penalty box. We had a lot of chances. It is a choker for me to deal with,” said the Englishman.

New signing Edwin Sydney Vanspaul, too, felt it’s difficult to understand why scoring a goal has proved elusive. “Everyone is disappointed. You all saw how much effort we put in. It’s obviously difficult to take having not scored in three matches. We are determined as one but it's hard to take,” said the right-back.

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ATK head coach Antonio Lopez Habas conceded that his team struggled to live with the pace of the game in the second half which in turn led to mistakes. “Maybe Chennaiyin deserved one goal, but this is football. We deserved more goals in Kerala [vs Kerala Blasters] but we lost the match. Now they [Chennaiyin] are in a difficult situation. But I think they have good players [to climb up the table],” said the Spaniard, whose side went top of the table with six points.

Gregory was critical of ATK’s approach and the refereeing in the second half when Chennaiyin pushed hard to get an equaliser. “Every opportunity ATK had to lay down and waste time, the referee [Raktim Saha] fell for it. We had the ball for 30 minutes and the opposition were on the floor for 15 minutes. There should have been 10 minutes of injury time because they were wasting time. Unfortunately, the referee got conned. They [ATK] got what they came for. They got one chance and they took that,” he said.

After a quick run of games, Chennaiyin will now have to wait for 10 days to play its next. But it won’t be an easy ask travelling to the home of the defending champion Bengaluru FC, the team against which Chennaiyin last got on the score-sheet.

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