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'We won't change our style of play come Saturday' Chennaiyin FC coach Owen Coyle lays down the law ahead of ISL final | ISL 2019-20

  • Coyle also talked about how the attacking nature of the game could suit his side.
EXPERT COLUMNIST
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Modified 13 Mar 2020, 16:11 IST

Owen Coyle seemed upbeat ahead of the big final against ATK
Owen Coyle seemed upbeat ahead of the big final against ATK

A few months ago, Chennaiyin FC stared down the barrel of another calamitous season. To put things into perspective, they couldn’t buy a victory at that juncture and many had earmarked them for a potential dogfight with Hyderabad FC to avoid the wooden spoon.

Yet, courtesy the most herculean of turnarounds, the Marina Machans managed to stich several positive results together, meaning that they find themselves within touching distance of another ISL crown.

Subsequently, the onus on them has shifted from that of underdogs punching above their weight to a side that is now just as fancied as ATK to script a new chapter in ISL history. 

On being quizzed if the dynamics had changed slightly considering the alteration in the circumstances, Owen Coyle remained unfazed and vividly opened up on how Chennaiyin FC would approach the game on Saturday. He said,

It doesn’t change a lot. Even in the semi-final, we were under pressure as everyone expected FC Goa to win and their quality. From January, we have been the form team in the league. We were very respectful of FC Goa but we didn’t fear them. And, that will be the same tomorrow. They [ATK] have wonderful players, an excellent coach and a great team. But, our mentality is to play our game tomorrow. We will not change anything We have come so far and we just want to see it through all the way.

Throughout the campaign, the Marina Machans and ATK have represented two of the more free-flowing attacking sides in the competition, a fact emphasized by the former scoring 38 goals and the latter making the net ripple 36 times.

Unsurprisingly, Coyle explained how he expected an attacking game from both teams, although he didn’t stop short of saying that that particular trait could benefit his troops.

I feel tomorrow will be a very attacking match between two attack-minded teams. I know that style of play comes with a bit of risk but I think it would suit us because that’s what we have been doing when we have had no option but to win. Having said that though, I have the utmost respect for ATK and I am expecting a great game.

He further elaborated,

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We need to be at our best and we have confidence that if we can be at our best, we will be a match for any team in the league. In football, one must always respect the opponent, no matter who one is playing against. But, the important thing is to concentrate on what we do and bring our very best. When we come off the field, we should not have regrets and on some days, you are beaten by better opponents. Thus, it is imperative that we give everything on the pitch.

Under the Irishman, Chennaiyin FC have looked imperious on occasions and have seemed a machine that barely contains any loose components. However, rather uncharacteristically, his charges looked a tad edgy when FC Goa threw the kitchen sink at them in the second leg.

Yet, Coyle swatted aside those claims, emphatically stating that his players produced an outstanding performance across both legs and that there would be no relevance of the same on Saturday.   

Additionally, the Irishman chatted about the trust he had shown in the Indian players and how they had delivered consistently, thereby highlighting the vast potential existing in the domestic circuit.

Akin to ATK, the Marina Machans would also aim to be the first team to complete a troika of ISL titles on the 14th, although they might have to do it in front of an empty stadium. On that prospect, Chennaiyin FC skipper, Lucian Goian quipped,

We all know that football without fans is completely different. But, in the current circumstances, nothing ranks above the health and safety of the people. And, I believe that the league has done the right thing. 

Thus, a day prior the final, Coyle and his most trusted lieutenant made all the right noises as the Marina Machans gear up to clash swords with one of their arch-rivals.

And, while Chennaiyin’s journey to the final and the quality in their ranks perhaps adds another significant layer of anticipation, expectation and of course, pressure, one reckons Coyle wouldn’t want to have it another way.

After all, the Marina Machans have earned their right to be on the verge of the ISL pinnacle, despite seemingly being destined to scale its nadir, just a few months earlier.   


Published 13 Mar 2020, 16:11 IST
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