I have utmost respect for Punjab FC: Chennaiyin FC head coach Owen Coyle
The Chennaiyin FC head coach is hoping his team can continue their winning ways against Punjab FC at home.
Chennaiyin FC head coach Owen Coyle feels Punjab FC, their opponents in the Indian Super League (ISL) match, will provide them with a tough test as he suggested that the Shers have been unlucky in their first four matches not to have picked more points than they have.
Punjab FC have played four games so far in the season and have lost twice and drawn twice and are still searching for their first-ever victory in the ISL. But Coyle believes there is more to the Shers than meets the eye.
"I have nothing but the utmost respect for Punjab FC. I think in their games the margins are small. Punjab drew in the last couple of games where it could have easily been three points and in their first couple of games as well," Coyle said at the pre-match press conference.
"Punjab FC have fantastic players. They have good Indian players and wonderful foreign players too," he added.
Chennaiyin FC have won just one match this season but it came in their last game away to Hyderabad FC where a Connor Sheilds goal helped them secure a 1-0 victory. The team will thus go into the game against Punjab FC at home with some confidence.
The Scottish head coach though stressed on the need to improve their performances with every game that focus too much on results.
"We have played four games in the season. If we win on Sunday, we move to the top half of the table. It counts for nothing at this stage of the season. The game is important for both the clubs but there are so many games to go after that," he said.
"What we want to do is continue the progress that we have continued to make. It was a big result going to Hyderabad and playing well and getting the win and a clean sheet," he added.
Chennaiyin FC have scored just twice in four matches and conceded eight in the process and Coyle revealed that his team has worked on areas they need to improve.
"We have worked on where we could improve and get better and that would be the case here too," he said.
"My players know that we are in for a tough game but what we need to do is make sure that we are the best version of ourselves. If we continue to do that then we will pick up points and climb up the table," he added.
The Marina Machans' injury concerns are easing and that's provided an encouragement to Coyle who now has more options at his disposal.
"It was the first time in a while last week that we had a full squad available so that puts us in a good position. So if you look at last week we could turn to the bench and change things up and bring quality. That resulted in us scoring a goal and creating really good quality chances," he said.
"What we have to do is not talk about last week but focus on Sunday and look to bring the same quality of performance, the same desire and hard work. We have got a terrific group of players. They work hard and they are honest. They want to get better," he added.
Talking about injury issues in the team, the Englishman said that the game might come too soon for Ninthoinganba Meetei but delivered a positive update that Serbian centre-back Lazar Cirkovic is training with the team again after missing a few days.
Keeping clean sheets is better than scoring goals: Ankit Mukherjee
Chennaiyin FC fullback Ankit Mukherjee accompanied Owen Coyle in the pre-match press conference. He got an assist for the winning goal scored by Connor Shields in the match against Hyderabad FC.
Speaking on his attacking contribution in the last match, Mukherjee said that it is all down to his coach's belief in him.
"The gaffer believed in me. I was doing what we planned. It went well. Playing forward allows me to overlap more. It is good that I can contribute to my team while attacking and coming back to defend," he said.
But Mukherjee believes that defensive solidity is key to winning matches in the ISL and revealed that his team is working hard to improve at both ends of the pitch.
"I feel like the better we are defensively in this league, the more chances of the team to get a win. Keeping clean sheets is a little better than scoring goals. We are working on how we can score more goals and create more attacking chances and hopefully we will score more goals in the next game," he concluded.