Chennaiyin FC head coach Owen Coyle is optimistic as they travel to face his former side Jamshedpur FC in Matchweek 9 of the Indian Super League (ISL) at the JRD Tata Sports Complex on Thursday.

The Marina Machans will take on the tenth-placed Jamshedpur FC after drawing their last two fixtures against East Bengal FC and Kerala Blasters FC. Chennaiyin FC last tasted victory in October when they defeated Punjab FC 5-1. Coyle is eager for his team to return to winning ways as they lock horns with the Men of Steel.

The head coach is happy with his team’s performance in the last two matches even though both ended on level terms.

“I think every game you want to win and our last two performances have been of very high standard. I think anybody who was at both games would have seen that. Certainly East Bengal, a game at home, we certainly should have had the three points, and obviously, going to Kerala having the lead we had (we should have won)
,” stated Coyle in the pre-match press conference. 

Acknowledging the substantial fan support for the home team at the Furnace, Coyle anticipates a tough game ahead but remains confident that his team can secure a win.

He shared, “Of course, we go now to a tough venue against a good side, a fantastic club, an amazing set of supporters. I mean, every home game is sold out. You know, Jamshedpur was incredible in that respect, getting behind the team. So we know it's a tough game, but it's one we're looking forward to, and we know we're playing at our very best, then it's a game that we can win.”

The Scottish-Irish tactician is extremely pleased with how his number seven, Ninthoinganba Meetei, has performed so far. Coyle believes Meetei has done pretty well in some instances and emphasized that the best of him is yet to come.

“I think he is an unbelievable opportunity. He has done very well in some instances. What we speak about, what we want to do, is that Ninthoi can do that for the whole duration of a match. But what we want is that run in the team, he'll play at Jamshedpur because I'm excited every time he gets a ball. He knows there are little bits he needs to learn, but I love working with him, he's always listening. He wants to get better and he has already shown glimpses of what he can achieve, you know, so we're giving the opportunity,” said Coyle.

Reflecting on his coaching days at Jamshedpur FC and their triumph in winning the ISL Shield, Coyle expresses regret that, despite the team's significant fan following, their supporters couldn't be present to witness the silverware lift due to the bio bubble restrictions during the pandemic.

“I've been very lucky and very blessed that I've worked with two ownership groups in India, Chennaiyin FC and Jamshedpur FC. You couldn't ask to meet better people, so honourable, great people, and I look forward to meeting them all. I mean, the unfortunate thing about winning the Shield at Jamshedpur, we never got to do it in front of those Jamshedpur FC fans. Now they know, for the duration of the game, I'll be doing everything in my power to win the game for Chennaiyin FC because I'm their head coach. But they also know as well, I mean, the unbelievable feeling and respect and love I have for that football club because there are such fantastic people.”

“I like to think that we put a smile on the face of the fans of Jamshedpur and winning the shield for a club that has never been in the playoffs was just a remarkable achievement. So I'm looking forward to seeing them. Hopefully, they treat me kindly, but I'm certainly looking forward to seeing them all because you have a huge amount of respect and love for the football club,” added Coyle. 

The 57-year-old expects to enter the January international break with an unbeaten run. He stated, “You want a better continuity, you want to continue an unbeaten run and carry that on, of course, into what's going to be another breakthrough in the league. So it is what it is. Everybody understood that when the league was starting. We just have to make sure that we concentrate more. We can do it. Try and be at our very best, continue to develop and grow these young players that can be exciting players for Chennaiyin FC.” 

Ninthoinganba Meetei joined Coyle at the press conference. When addressing his form since returning from injury, the winger expressed his belief that he needs to strive for improvement

“Actually. I'm not (good) enough at what I am right now. But I'm doing well, I'm doing good. I'm going to step up. So it (must be) great to go higher, to go to the top. I want to play well more, in these upcoming matches and I want to give my best,” Meetei said.