Super Cup 2018: Chennaiyin FC's John Gregory - 'The tag of ISL champions is not a burden'

The Englishman acknowledges it will be tough to defend his team's title from last season but is up for the challenge....

Chennaiyin FC are enjoying the tag of Indian Super League (ISL) champions going into their Super Cup Round of 16 encounter against Aizawl FC, says head coach John Gregory. 

Addressing the media ahead of the tournament opener in Bhubanesvar, Gregory felt that teams are likely tor aise their game against the Marina Machans but his team will be up for the challenge. 

"I don’t think it (ISL champions tag) is a burden. We are the champions of the Indian Super League," he said. "But we know that we become the target as champs as people tend to raise their game against you. That is a small price to pay if you ask me. We can’t wait to get started with it really. 

"Trust me, there are other nine coaches who would be wishing for this burden." 

The former Aston Villa coach also felt that the tournament's knock-out format will not affect the team's plans going into the game on Saturday. 

"Obviously, at the end of the regular season, we had to go into a play-off which was make or break and the final was also a knockout situation. So we’re used to playing in such scenarios. If you win it, you go forward. If you lose, you go out. We know what the situation is and what the regulations are." 

However, he did suggest that he will be fielding several fringe players who did not clock many minutes in the ISL against Aizawl. 

"We always approach every match in a professional manner and play our best teams. We didn't get opportunities to experiment in the ISL season. We couldn’t play many youngsters as we had to qualify for the play-offs.

"There is possibility that one or two of our less experienced players might get an opportunity. But make no mistake. We are coming here to win the game."

He also revealed that Aizawl are something of a known quantity for Chennaiyin FC, given that the teams had played a friendly last October. But Gregory is expecting a tough battle from the team from Mizoram. 

"We did play a practice match in October last year (against Aizawl). We know a little bit about them. Of course, their coach has changed but they had a successful season last time. It is going to be a tough game but it will be a good battle."