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ISL 2019-20: Owen Coyle terms Chennaiyin win 'an outstanding team performance'

  • He was also delighted with new goal-scorers stepping up to the plate for the team.
Modified 01 Mar 2020, 05:23 IST

Owen Coyle
Owen Coyle

Chennaiyin FC romped to a 4-1 home win over FC Goa on Saturday evening in the first leg of their semifinal clash in the Indian Super League. After a goalless first half, the second period produced five goals with Chennaiyin skipper Lucian Goian breaking the deadlock.

Chennaiyin scored three more times through Anirudh Thapa, Eli Sabia and Lallianzuala Chhangte, while substitute Saviour Gama grabbed a late goal for the visitors.

The result puts Chennaiyin in the driver's seat with the second leg scheduled a week later.

Chennaiyin were dominant early in the game, but couldn't make their possession and territory count. Goian and Nerijus Valskis had a header and shot respectively saved by Goa keeper Mohammed Nawaz. Goa clawed their way back towards the end of the first half, but in the second, once Goian scored the opener, Chennaiyin seized control.

Speaking after the game, Chennaiyin coach Owen Coyle termed it ‘an outstanding team performance.’

“We scored some wonderful goals, some good individual goals, some good team goals."

While admitting that he would have liked to have kept a clean sheet, he was still delighted with his team's showing.

“Yes, the one thing I am disappointed about is the goal we conceded. I would have preferred for the team to keep a clean sheet. But before the game, if you had offered me a 4-1 result, I would have taken it with both hands.”

Though Chennaiyin enjoyed the early exchanges and had the best chances of the first half, Goa pushed back and ensured the game was level going into half-time.

 “In the first half they defended pretty well and after our bright start they came into the game nicely in the second part of the first half. We knew that they are a dangerous side on the counter. Without Boumous and Brandon, they dropped Coro into Boumous’ position and he’s good in those areas, he’s able to make those runs and find the spaces. So I thought 0-0 at half-time was a fair outcome."
“I also felt we lacked the usual fluidity and precision in our passing in the first half. So I told the boys that if we could control the ball a bit better and tighten up the spacing a bit, we would get opportunities to score, and I think that was the change in the second half.”

Chennaiyin midfielder Thapa added the second goal for his side with a spectacular curling effort from just outside the box. He was also heavily involved in the build-up to the fourth goal with a couple of sumptuous passes exchanged between him and eventual scorer Chhangte along with Rafael Crivellaro and Jerry Lalrinzuala.

Coyle was effusive in his praise of the young Indian.

“I keep telling him that he has goals in him. I’ve said it before, I think he’s the best Indian midfielder going around in the ISL and he has huge potential to improve even further. And I was a little hard on him at half-time because there were a few uncharacteristic errors from him in the first half. And one thing about Thapa is that he wants to learn and displays huge accountability. And we all saw what he could do in the second half.”
“It was a fantastic goal that he scored, worthy of winning any game.”

With two of the goals coming from his centre-backs, Coyle said he was happy about others stepping up.

“Before Lucian scored (against Mumbai City), all our goals had come from our front four. So I think it shows that people are ready to step up. It definitely helps us reduce the burden on our front boys at the top end of the pitch.”

The coach said the next step now is to replicate a similar performance in Goa in the second leg next Saturday, saying that his side won’t sit back to defend their lead.

“We can’t go to Goa and sit back, because then they will be onto us and keep creating wave after wave of attacks. My team has shown that we can both operate with possession and hold back and play on the counter if necessary. Their fans are going to turn up in large numbers and make it a fantastic occasion. They have the players to come back in this tie. Boumous and Brandon might be available for them. It’s just half-time in this semifinal.”

He also brushed aside talk of complacency from his players with the margin of victory at hand after the first leg.

“We haven’t come this far for nothing. If you don’t respect the opposition, you will be humbled. Especially a side like Goa who have been a top team. They are not number 1 in the league for no reason. Derrick (Pereira) and Clifford (Miranda) are both top guys, very intelligent and knowledgeable with their football. So they will come at us and we need to be ready.”

The reverse fixture at Goa will be held on March 7.

Published 01 Mar 2020, 01:44 IST
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