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ISL 2019-20: "Not seen a better Indian midfielder than Thapa," says Chennaiyin FC gaffer Owen Coyle after win over Jamshedpur FC 

  • With every player contributing, Coyle feels he has a good selection headache on the cards.
Modified 24 Jan 2020, 06:42 IST

Owen Coyle says his team will not give up it
Owen Coyle says his team will not give up it's attacking approach even as playoff contention looms

Chennaiyin FC continued their second-half surge in the Indian Super League, registering a third consecutive victory after putting away Jamshedpur FC 4-1 in front of their home fans. Their top scorer, Nerijus Valskis, bagged a double with goals from Andre Schembri and Lallianzuala Chhangte complementing the Lithuanian's double strike.

Chennaiyin FC were 2-0 up at half-time, but a brief fightback from Jamshedpur saw Sergio Castel reduce the deficit when he scored in the 71st minute. But Valskis then scored his second just four minutes later to re-establish their two-goal cushion before Chhangte banged in the fourth after a mazy run from substitute Dragos Firtulescu.

The dominant win was Chennaiyin FC's third on the bounce in the ISL, the first time they have managed this since back during their title-winning campaign in December 2017.

"To score four goals and register 3 wins in a row, that’s brilliant. But we need to keep it going", said Coyle.
"I was delighted how we went about it in the first half. We could’ve scored more. I thought the game was end-to-end with Jamshedpur also creating chances. They have good players like Castel and Grande. It was a feast of attacking football you could say."

He was unhappy though with his team for letting Jamshedpur back into the match after the break but revealed that the reaction to the goal pleased him immensely.

"I was not happy with 10 minutes in the second half that led to the goal. Castel's a very good player and took the chance brilliantly. I think our intensity and tempo dropped at the start of the second half which led to the goal. But the reaction from my players was sensational. The pass from Thapa was brilliant and Valskis had a wonderful finish."

He admitted there were things to be worked on, but was happy with the overall performance.

"There’s lots of things to work on, but how we went about from start to finish was fantastic. But we have to do that again in the next match because we are playing catch-up. We're setting up for an exciting end to the season and games like this will help us."

Anirudh Thapa in midfield had a stellar game and bossed the middle of the park. Once again Coyle opted to go with Edwin Sydney and Thapa in the middle of the park and the duo put their stamp on the game. The assist for Valskis' second goal was in many ways the perfect exclamation point on his performance today.

Coyle had huge praise for his Indian star.

"Thapa is such a consistent performer. His passing, running with the ball, defensive effort and even his aerial game were all outstanding today. The better he plays, the better we play. Having looked around the league, I’ve not seen a better Indian midfielder."
"But you need to keep doing it throughout a season. And he knows that. He can develop into a top player." 

The success of his players now gives Coyle selection headaches in midfield, but the Irishman admitted that it's one he's happy to have.

"The great thing with what we have is options. We can’t just rely on 11 players. What I was pleased about today was that all our substitutes put in contributions. Thapa and German have been brilliant. Thapa and Edwin also have been good. German was not fit today. There is competition for spots and that is a problem you want as a coach. Long may that continue."

With their recent results putting them well and truly in contention for that final playoff spot, Coyle was asked if it is likely to add pressure on his players' shoulders. But the Chennaiyin coach explained that pressure was something his squad had experienced from the beginning.

"We’ve been under pressure from the very first game I came in. We’ve been playing catch up after that poor start. Any slip up from us and we are out. After the result away at Odisha, we could have felt sorry for ourselves, but we picked ourselves up and have now won three back-to-back. The top four teams can afford to have a slip up but we’ve had to keep winning and winning."

Chennaiyin FC next travels to Kochi to take on Kerala Blasters FC on February 1st.

Published 24 Jan 2020, 06:42 IST
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