Owen Coyle: India can reach World Cup finals in the next few qualifiers

After turning around Chennaiyin FC’s campaign and leading them to the final in Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2019-20, Owen Coyle has embarked on a new challenge with Jamshedpur FC. Known for showing his faith in Indian players at his previous club, the 54-year-old head coach believes that India can reach the FIFA World Cup if domestic talents get more game time and continue to develop.

“More game helps develop the Indian players. The more games they play, the better they become. And that, in turn, helps the national team. When I look at the Indian football scenario currently, I feel India has a chance of reaching the FIFA World Cup finals in the next few qualifiers. Indian football, especially the Hero ISL is getting better year after year. It’s great to be involved in the league,” the new Jamshedpur head coach told host Anant Tyagi in episode 33 of Let’s Football Live.

While speaking about the opportunity to coach Jamshedpur, Coyle expressed his desire to build a long-term project at the club. “When I spoke to the club officials, the first conversations were very positive when it came to the vision for the club, and everything that goes with it. So, when you look at the infrastructure, the stadium, the Tata Football Academy, it is about the opportunity to put something in place that can have longevity,” he said.

Coyle joined Chennaiyin midway through last season and in a short span of time inculcated his philosophy and helped the Marina Machans finish the league stage in the top four. Now with the opportunity to begin preparations from the start of the campaign and a full pre-season to look forward to, Coyle hopes to build a successful team.

“The pre-season is very important because it gives you a chance to outline your plans with everybody. It gives you a chance to work on (the team). We need to keep winning because the Hero ISL is very competitive. We need to make a good start and then sustain it. The pre-season is all-important and puts your plans in place,” he explained.

The 54-year-old also heaped praise on the Jamshedpur youngsters and shed light on one of the most important aspects behind a young footballer’s development. “I am excited about every one of Jamshedpur’s young talents. The one thing I want to develop is the belief and trust as a coach. They should not be afraid to make mistakes. What matters is the reaction when the mistake is made. Football can be unforgiving, and I want to give them that belief and trust. Hopefully, we can impart that knowledge and experience and help the Indian players,” Coyle said.

Citing the examples of Chennaiyin youngsters Anirudh Thapa and Lallianzuala Chhangte, both of whom improved their performances after Coyle’s arrival at the club last season, he said, “When you see players like Thapa, he can go and play in most leagues. He is very humble; he is a team player. Tremendously talented player. Meanwhile, Chhangte hadn’t scored a goal before I came in. He felt a burden, so I told him to just relax and enjoy your football. He ended up as the top-scoring Indian player from open play (seven goals).”

The new Jamshedpur head coach also made it clear that he will be evaluating his players based on their performances and not age. “We have some wonderful players (in Jamshedpur). If a player is performing, I have no fear of playing him. Everything is done on merit. I don’t care much about the age. If they are good enough, they will play. If someday, we find a special talent at 16 and he is good enough, then he will play in the team,” Coyle said.

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