Owen Coyle, a prominent figure in Indian Football, was reappointed at the helm of Chennaiyin FC with the ambitious goal of restoring the club to its former glory. The Scotsman, renowned for consistently exceeding expectations with his teams, whether it was during his first tenure with Chennaiyin FC or leading Jamshedpur FC to victory in the Indian Super League (ISL) in the 2021-22 season, has once again showcased his managerial prowess.

Coyle, much to everyone's expectations, successfully guided the Marina Machans to qualify for the playoffs for the first time in four seasons. However, their journey was fraught with challenges. Throughout a season marked by ups and downs, Chennaiyin FC often found themselves languishing in the bottom half of the table. Yet, they demonstrated resilience with a late surge, winning three consecutive games and achieving the remarkable feat of coming back from behind on each occasion—an achievement never before seen in the ISL. They have garnered a total of 10 points from losing positions this season.

Read: FC Goa vs Chennaiyin FC Preview

Their performance in cup competitions was not notable either, as they suffered a group-stage exit in the Kalinga Super Cup and were defeated by FC Goa in the quarter-finals of the Durand Cup.

However, with a late surge in form, Chennaiyin FC aim to make their season more memorable by clinching the ISL trophy for the third time.

Key stats in ISL 2023-24 season

Matches: 22, Wins: 8, Draws: 3, Losses: 11, Goals Scored: 26, Goals Conceded: 36, Points: 27, League Standings: 6th

Tactical Profile

Owen Coyle has primarily preferred to use the 4-2-3-1 formation during this season, but he has also been flexible, sometimes switching to formations like 4-4-2, 4-1-4-1, or 4-3-3. Throughout the season, he has emphasized the importance of his wingers in executing his preferred style of play, relying on players such as Ninthoi Meetei, Farukh Choudhary, Vincy Barretto, and Rahim Ali.

Read: Owen Coyle's Pre-match Press Conference

One player who has particularly stood out is Connor Shields, who previously played under Coyle at Queens Park FC. Shields has shown remarkable versatility, transitioning from a winger to excelling in a double pivot role, despite primarily being a striker. His ability to adapt has been crucial for the team's success.

In the attacking aspect, Rafael Crivellaro has been the main driving force, entrusted with the significant responsibility of creating scoring opportunities within Coyle's tactical setup.



With Rafael Crivellaro leading the charge, it's inevitable that the team excels in set-piece situations. However, Aakash Sangwan has also proven to be a formidable threat with his deadball deliveries. His Olympic goal against NorthEast United FC stands as a testament to his prowess.

Chennaiyin FC's proficiency in set-pieces is further bolstered by the presence of aerially dominant players like Ryan Edwards, Jordan Murray, and even right-back Ankit Mukherjee, who is also adept in the air.


Goal Conversion

The Marina Machans have struggled to capitalize on their opportunities in front of goal. Despite creating 199 chances during the league stages, the fifth-highest in the league, Chennaiyin FC have only managed to score 26 goals in 22 matches, marking the third-lowest tally this season. In fact, this is seven goals fewer than any other teams that have qualified for the playoffs.

Chances Conceded

Chennaiyin FC's defensive vulnerabilities are evident in the chances conceded. They have allowed 234 opportunities during the league stages, the highest among playoff-qualifying teams and the second-highest overall in the league.

Performance of young Indian players

The Scotsman has consistently demonstrated his talent for developing and nurturing players to suit his style of play. He specializes in bringing out the best in young players and aiding their growth and development in the game – and this season has been no exception.

Bikash Yumnam, the youthful centre-back, has become a mainstay under Coyle, impressing with his 19 appearances and invaluable contributions in defence.

Meanwhile, forward Irfan Yadwad has emerged as a game-changer, making significant impacts whenever called upon. Coyle's unwavering belief in young prospects like Jiteshwor Singh, Ninthoi Meetei, and Rahim Ali has yielded fruitful results, with each player making noteworthy strides and contributing crucial goals to the team's success.

Player to Watch out for in Playoffs: Rafael Crivellaro

A consistent and dependable presence in Coyle’s lineup, Crivellaro brings formidable all-around skills to the table, particularly his mastery on the ball. As an attacking midfielder celebrated for his prowess in set-pieces, he spearheads Chennaiyin FC's offensive endeavours with aplomb. Currently occupying the second spot in the season's assist chart with seven assists, he has already contributed to 11 goals—a tally he will definitely aim to add upon.

Additionally, he boasts 27 successful dribbles, has created 42 scoring opportunities, and emerged victorious in 92 duels. His pivotal role in midfield will be crucial for the Marina Machans as they strive to advance in the Playoffs.

Records and Unique Stats

  • Chennaiyin FC (102) along with FC Goa (112) are the only two sides to have won back possession in the final third more than 100 times in the 2023-24 Indian Super League season.
  • The Marina Machans’ five goals from high turnovers (winning the ball back within 40 metres of the opposition’s goal) is the joint most (also Odisha FC) by any side so far this season.
  • Rafael Crivellaro has made 28 goal contributions (12 goals & 16 assists) for Chennaiyin FC in the Indian Super League, the second most by any player; a goal or an assist in this game will see him equal Jeje Lalpekhlua (29) for most goal contributions for the Marina Machans in the ISL history.
  • They are solid starters, scoring 27% of their goals in the first 15 minutes of their games, which is the highest share amongst all teams.

Predicted Starting XI: Debjit Majumder (GK); Ankit Mukherjee, Bikash Yumnam, Ryan Edwards (C), Aakash Sangwan; Connor Shields, Jiteshwor Singh; Vincy Barretto, Rafael Crivellaro, Farukh Choudhary; Jordan Murray.