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ISL 2019-20: Coyle calls draw against Bengaluru 'a fair result', feels playoffs 'still within grasp'

Modified 10 Feb 2020, 11:28 IST

Coyle felt the forced changes cost his side some fluidity
Coyle felt the forced changes cost his side some fluidity

Chennaiyin FC could not muster a decisive goal and had to settle for a point in their crunch encounter against Bengaluru FC in the Indian Super League on Sunday evening. Looking for the three points in an attempt to move within 2 points of fourth-placed Mumbai City FC, Chennaiyin had to settle for a 0-0 draw against their arch-rivals.

In a hard-fought game where both midfield's and defences had the measure of each other’s attacks, chances were at a premium, but both sides had opportunities to come away with full points.

Speaking after the game, Chennaiyin coach Owen Coyle said: “When you can’t win a game, you have to make sure you don’t lose it.”

Playing without their suspended midfielder Anirudh Thapa, Coyle was forced to play Masih Saighani in his place to partner Edwin Vanspaul, forcing Andre Schembri to the bench with Thoi Singh playing down the right-wing instead.

But it was Schembri who had Chennaiyin’s best chance on the night in the 79th minute, after coming on as a sub. After Rafael Crivellaro found him with a good ball inside the box, the Maltese’s effort was blocked by Bengaluru keeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, with Albert Serran and Rahul Bheke then combining to clear it off the line.

“We had one or two chances to win, a great one when Andre went through”, said Coyle about his team’s chances. “But I think it’s a tremendous accolade for us and a show of respect that Bengaluru chose to mostly sit behind the ball in this game and hurt us on the counter. I think we restricted them to a few chances and dealt with their aerial balls into the box.”

The forced changes in personnel Coyle felt impacted his side’s play.

“I had to sacrifice Andre with Thapa suspended and German injured. I feel we lost a bit of continuity and fluency due to the changes. Some of our intricate moves didn’t come off. But with the draw, it may turn out to be a very important point come the end of the season.”

Coyle also said the stakes associated with the game may have led to both teams being a bit cautious.


“There was a lot at stake in this match which perhaps led to some nerves. We obviously set out to win the game, Bengaluru looked like they were happy to contain us”, said Coyle.

Chennaiyin had to play the final three minutes of regulation and stoppage time with 10 men after Thoi Singh picked up his second yellow card of the night. Coyle felt his player was hard done by the decision.

“I’m disappointed for Thoi, I thought he was very harshly dealt with. Especially considering there were a number of players on a yellow card and they had all remained on the pitch despite some more fouls. And Thoi’s was not a dangerous foul.”

The Chennaiyin coach also felt his team could have had a penalty in the 54th minute when a break from Lallianzuala Chhangte saw him force Bengaluru defender Serran onto the floor where he appeared to handle the ball.

Crystal John, the referee for today’s game, was also the man in charge in Chennaiyin’s contentious 1-1 draw against Jamshedpur FC earlier this season, a fact that was not lost on Coyle.

“Over the season there has been a lot that’s gone against Chennaiyin. Crystal was the referee against us in Jamshedpur when Farrukh punched the ball into the net. But I don’t want to sit here and complain about it. Let’s hope for the league that the work put in by the coaches, players, officials and everyone else helps in the improvement.”

The point sees Chennaiyin now four points away from Mumbai in fourth, but Coyle believes ‘destiny is in our hands’ for his team. Including Sunday’s clash against Bengaluru, Coyle’s men take on three of the top four to close out their regular season.

But it’s a challenge, his team will take head-on, said Coyle.

“To be the best we have to beat the best. Going to Hyderabad, going to Kerala, we have shown we can win on the road. We are comfortable in possession as well as comfortable in transition. Nobody envisaged that we would be in this position when I came in midway through the season. But we have a chance and we will go with the intention to attack and get all three points from these remaining games. It’s going to be an exciting end to the season and qualification is still within our grasp.”

Chennaiyin next travel to ATK for their game on 16th February.

Published 10 Feb 2020, 00:53 IST
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