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With ISL hopes over, Chennaiyin look for AFC Cup comfort

John Gregory

Chennai, December 7: Chennaiyin FC's collapse in this edition of the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) has been nothing short of spectacular. A side that knew how to grind out results and defeated the mighty Bengaluru FC in their own den to win the ISL title last season, now seems to have forgotten that art.

Their 0-2 reverse against Mumbai City FC on Thursday was their eighth loss in 11 games. For those who followed them last season, this is a stunning collapse, and it is unlikely that they will make it to the play-offs, forget about defending the title.

Chennaiyin have five points, and even if they miraculously win all remaining seven games, they will climb to a maximum of 26 points.

ISL results | Points table | Fixtures

If you consider that the fourth-placed team last year had 30 points, the play-off dreams do not look like turning into reality.

Huge disappointment

Huge disappointment

"I feel huge disappointment for everybody associated with the club. I carry hurt and disappointment, rather than pressure. It hurts me the worst," said coach John Gregory.

"That's how I feel. Having had the amazing 12 months, I had prior to September this year, it hurts me the most. But that's what comes with the job," he added.

Jeje's poor form

Jeje's poor form

Just like the fans, Gregory must have been left wondering how his team does not seem to get anything right.

The team has underperformed collectively this year and look a mere shadow of the defensively resolute outfit which opponents found hard to crack last year.

The 21 goals they conceded points to a bigger malaise and the form of some stars, including striker Jeje Lalpekhlua, is a huge cause for concern.

Huge ask

Huge ask

"The AFC Cup becomes the focus if ISL goes out of focus. By the end of this month, we will have a really good idea of whether our play-off hopes are completely over.

It is a huge ask for us to catch-up. You're praying for a miracle here," said Gregory.

Plenty to play for

Plenty to play for

Miracles do not happen just like that. Given Chennaiyin's poor form all through the season, they have left too much to do in the end, and even if they start winning, it's incomprehensible that they will win seven in a row.

Between now and early next year when the AFC Cup kicks off, Gregory will have time to utilise the winter break in the ISL and the January transfer window to plug the holes. There is still plenty left to play for this season.

(Source: ISL Media)

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    Story first published: Saturday, December 8, 2018, 11:04 [IST]
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