Super Cup: Chennaiyin's 'complete performance' in ATK win pleasing, says Gregory

ATK coach Steve Coppell admitted that he did not anticipate Chennaiyin FC to start with two defensive midfielders, who stopped his forward players from having an effect on the game.

After a deflating ISL campaign, Chennaiyin FC has had an upturn in form in both the AFC Cup and the Super Cup.   -  AIFF Media

Chennaiyin FC’s 2-0 win over ATK in the Super Cup semifinal here at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar on Wednesday was as close to a complete performance it has had this season felt coach John Gregory.

Midfielder Anirudh Thapa scored and set up a goal for the second game running as Chennaiyin extended its unbeaten run to six matches in all competitions to set up a cup final meet with FC Goa.

Gregory said, “It was [a complete performance] from kick-off. We played well and were composed. It was pleasing on the eye from start to finish with our passing and how we kept the ball well. It was like the Chennaiyin from last season; teams hated playing against us. It (Super Cup run) has kind of got our chins up a little about it.”

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After a deflating Indian Super League campaign where the club finished last, Chennaiyin has somewhat had an upturn in form in both the AFC Cup and the Super Cup in the last month.

“It (cup run) just helps us physiologically; to have a poor season and improve. We take a lot of pleasure by overcoming these three ISL teams (Mumbai City FC, NorthEast United FC and ATK), two of them who made the ISL playoffs,” said Gregory.

According to the Englishman, Thapa, who was deployed on the right wing before being switched to the left midway through the first half, is capable of carrying out his duties across many midfield positions.

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“It will help with his education. He knows how to play a holding role, a no. 10 role, and tonight he started on the right. He knows what each position will bring. He is bright enough to do the job and do it,” the ISL-winning coach said.

ATK coach Steve Coppell said he didn’t anticipate Chennaiyin to start with two defensive midfielders in Dhanpal Ganesh and Chris Herd, who stopped his forward players from having an effect on the game.

“They (Chennaiyin) had little bit more size in midfield which I didn't expect. I thought they would go with either Ganesh or Herd but not as a pair. That made it difficult for Manu (Manuel Lanzarote) and Edu (Garcia), in particular, to get the ball in the inside forward areas. We didn't get a flow about our play,” felt Coppell.

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Coppell also rued the loss of midfielder Pronay Halder, who was suspended for the last-four clash. “We definitely missed Pronay. He has a real drive about him. We missed his presence in midfield. I am not making excuses but we had a couple of players, who weren't close to a 100 per cent,” said the former Jamshedpur FC coach.  

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