Owen Coyle: ATK will be relieved to have won given what we brought to the game

Chennaiyin FC failed to give their magical turnaround in Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2019-20 the desired fairytale ending as they went down 3-1 to ATK FC in the final at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Goa on Saturday. Despite the disappointing stumble in the final hurdle, it has been a season to remember for the Marina Machans who made it to the final despite languishing near the bottom of the table only back in December.

Speaking at the post-match press conference, Chennaiyin head coach Owen Coyle rued the team’s missed opportunities on the night and said, “Goals can change games. We had a few easy chances to go ahead in the initial phase but couldn’t take them. And that’s what decides a game sometimes. So, if you look at it tonight, there were two things from our perspective. One, we weren’t clinical enough with our chances and secondly, I felt ATK’s last two goals were certainly avoidable. As a whole, there’s no doubt what we offered to the game. I think ATK will be very relieved to get away with the trophy given what we brought to the game. But that’s how football is at the highest level.”

“We had almost 70% possession but ultimately if you don’t take your chances, it will come back to haunt you. However, I have to say ATK’s goal in the first half was a wonderful finish and credit to them. The man of the match for me was their goalkeeper Arindam Bhattacharja. He was truly outstanding tonight. I think I have to give credit to ATK for winning,” he added.

Although his side were on the losing side, the 53-year-old felt that his team played the better brand of football on the night. “No one should tell me that they were the better team tonight. My disappointment is for how much my team put into the game. But ultimately if you don’t take your chances, you give away soft goals. We were the team that played all the football. To be fair to them they stuck to their task. They made it tough for us by banging the ball forward. The spoils went to ATK so all the very best to them. We were the team who kept pushing on, but they were clinical and we were not,” he remarked.

Explaining why he chose Germanpreet Singh ahead of Edwin Vanspaul to start the match, Coyle said, “Germanpreet played very well. He was terrific till he was on the field. Edwin had a little niggle. He has probably not been at his very best in the last few matches, but he came on (after Germanpreet’s injury) and did very well. That’s why we have a squad. That’s why I said before, we have terrific Indian midfield players. We have Anirudh Thapa, German, Edwin. If I have to pick two from these three, there’s absolutely no problem. It was a decision that was made, it had no bearing on the game, that’s for sure.”

The Chennaiyin boss then went on to laud his players and noted, “Tonight, my feelings go out to my group of players, because those players, particularly the young players, they’ve done so much. They have been a joy to watch. I really feel for them tonight. They love their club. I feel disappointed for them. It’s a tough night to lose and it’s important to recognize the players who have done very well.”

Read the Match Report here.

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