Owen Coyle: Excited about the NorthEast challenge

Chennaiyin FC will be looking for their fourth win of the Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2019-20 campaign when they face off against NorthEast United FC at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Chennai on Thursday. Currently eighth in the standings, points are the need of the hour for the Marina Machans to keep themselves alive in the top four race and the two-time champions will be eager to register all three points against the Highlanders in the home tie.

Ahead of the fixture, Chennaiyin head coach Owen Coyle stressed the importance of making their home advantage count and said, “NorthEast are a great team and it will be a tough match for us. They are trying to strengthen their squad. Every game is a tough game in this league. But to go out there in our home stadium, on our home field, we are looking forward to it and are excited about the challenge ahead.”

“Three of our next four games will be at home. We will try to be consistent, gather the points and challenge for the top four. There will be some tough matches towards the end but that’s the nature of the league. We will focus on the match at hand and if we can win, everyone will feel good about it. We have to be in a good place physically and mentally to win the game,” he added.

Summing up the team’s progression since he took over the reins, Coyle noted, “For us, the key, regardless of where we are, is making sure that we are at our very best. Before I came in, the club had scored four goals in six games, but in the last five, we scored 10. I think we deserved more points than what we got. Because there was a slow start, we are always playing catch up. It doesn’t matter where our opponents are in the table or what they are doing. Our objective is to be at our best.”

He then went on to praise his Indian contingent and stated, “The players we have, have shown great attitude, a real desire to do better. Players like Edwin Vanspaul and other young Indian players in the team have been fantastic. As much as you are the head coach, the first thing you are is a coach. I have to try and help improve the players. There is a lot of quality in the Indian players and we have to put our faith in them and encourage them. We are trying to do that.”

“Every team in the league is strong with the players and the balance they have. You are never, ever, comfortable playing against any of them. You have to be focused and concentrate for the full match. When we do that, we have shown we have quality. We still have a chance to get to the coveted top four spots. But to do that, we need to consistently pick up wins. Three points are invaluable because they can catapult you up the table. The focus is on us to win,” he added.

Chennaiyin will be missing the services of midfielder Germanpreet Singh on Thursday due to a suspension. Asked how big a handicap it would be for the side, Coyle replied, “Germanpreet is out due to a suspension. We have a solution and we are very comfortable with the solution. I think it will work very well for us.”

Vanspaul, who attended the briefing along with Coyle, talked about the impact Coyle’s arrival has had on the team and said, “There have been a lot of changes. We are a family now and more offensive on the pitch. He has helped us a lot. He is improving us every day.”

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