Bengaluru: Ahead of their mouth-watering final against Bengaluru FC on Saturday, Chennaiyin FC manager John Gregory believes that their 2-1 victory at the Sree Kanteerava stadium early in the season has given them a psychological advantage over their Indian Super League rivals.
"The fact that we have won here before gives us confidence," Gregory said in the pre-match conference. We had won in Goa a couple of weeks before the semi-final and we were confident that we could do well when we returned for the semis. We know what to expect tomorrow. It will be a very partisan crowd. We have confidence knowing that we have won here before. We know that they are not infallible at home. With all due to respect to what Bengaluru have achieved this season, we are Chennaiyin FC and we are not afraid of anybody."
Like his coach, Jeje Lalpekhlua is raring to play Bengaluru in their own backyard and believes that playing in front of their fans will add pressure on the Sunil Chhetri-led side.
"It's always good to play in front of a packed stadium but I believe the pressure is on them because a majority of their fans will be there. I can definitely score more goals and I hope to score tomorrow and lift the ISL trophy," Jeje said.
The Mizo striker lifted the I-League trophy with Mohun Bagan in the 2014-15 in Bengaluru and is relishing repeating a similar feat on Saturday.
"I remember lifting the I-League trophy with Mohun Bagan here in Bengaluru and I wish to lift the ISL trophy here with Chennaiyin FC."
Gregory was also pleased with his main striker getting back among the goals after a lean patch when he scored twice in the second leg of the semi-final. Jeje has scored nine times, including a brace in the semi-final, for Chennaiyin this season despite suffering a loss of form in the season.
"As a striker, you are expected to score goals and if he goes without scoring, he might lose confidence. But it was only a matter of time before he scored and unfortunately for Goa, he got a couple of opportunities and he scored," the Chennaiyin coach said. "He has won matches for us before and Jeje's role for us is more than scoring goals. He works tirelessly for the team and he never goes missing in games. He is our first line of defence. He is in good shape and will be a big danger for Bengaluru tomorrow," he added.
Bengaluru reached the final on the back of a hat-trick from Chhetri in the second leg and Gregory marked the Blues' skipper and his strike partner Miku as their dangerous players. The duo has scored 27 of Bengaluru's 35 goals this season but Gregory is confident his team can limit their impact in the game.
"Sunil Chhetri scored three goals in the semi-final second leg. He's been a major player for BFC along with Miku. They're very similar to Coro and Lanzarote at FC Goa and we managed to keep them quiet on Tuesday night. So if we manage to keep Sunil and Miku quiet tomorrow, we have a good chance of winning the final."
Looking ahead to the final, Gregory expects the match to be won within 90 minutes given the quality of players on both the sides.
"The first half may not be quite dramatic but both teams may be required to be more attack-minded given it's the final. With the quality of the players in both teams, I believe there will be a winner in 90 minutes."
Given Bengaluru's propensity to score via set pieces this season, the Chennaiyin manager conceded that the Albert Roca-coached side will be very dangerous from dead-ball situations.
"Bengaluru rarely repeat their set pieces. I know Albert works hard on set pieces and we'll be alert when they have a chance. The game could well be decided by a set piece," Gregory signed off.
Firstpost is now on WhatsApp. For the latest analysis, commentary and news updates, sign up for our WhatsApp services. Just go to Firstpost.com/Whatsapp and hit the Subscribe button.
Updated Date: Mar 16, 2018 19:57:20 IST