Owen Coyle: Expecting a terrific game of football against Kerala

Chennaiyin FC will be on the road to face Kerala Blasters FC at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi on Saturday. After a terrible start, the two-time Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) champions have been in good form lately and find themselves not too far off the top four with a couple of games in hand.

At the pre-match press conference, Chennaiyin head coach Owen Coyle spoke about the team’s turnaround since his arrival and said, “I think when you come in, any coach will tell you that they would love to have a pre-season. But what was important was that we had to access very quickly the strengths of our squad. We were at the bottom of the league and were written off for the final four. Looking at the table, it was a fair comment. We had scored four goals in six games. What we had to look at was to find a way to win games.”

“We managed to do that. We think there is a lot more room for improvement. We were not happy to lose any games but showed a fantastic reaction when we did. The game we had against Kerala (3-1 to Chennaiyin in mid-December) which we won, a real top opponent. I love some of the Kerala players. Then we won at Hyderabad (FC). The club hadn’t won on the road since November 2017. So, we had to get that weight off our shoulders, and we did that,” added Coyle.

Moving further, the 53-year-old diverted his attention to the Blasters game and stated, “When we play, we play a very attacking brand of football. Trying to create and score from chances. On Saturday night, we will see two very attack minded teams going at it. Both teams need to win. It will be a terrific game of football. I’m looking forward to a great game. Both teams have terrific attacking players. They have fantastic players. We are aware of the threat they pose. We have to make sure that defensively we are ready for that challenge. But we also know, if we are at our very best, we can win this game. That’s what we need to concentrate at.”

“We’ve shown that we can defend well. There are only three teams who’ve given up less chances than us. So, it is something that we are getting better at. We are trying to find the balance between the offensive game and making sure that we are tight as a unit,” he added.

Lastly, the Chennaiyin head coach warned his players against taking their foot off the pedal. “We are here to try and win against Kerala. We have a good mentality. Physically, mentally, we feel we are in a good place. We’ve been delivering on the field, but we must be ready to do that again. The one thing you always fear is complacency. I stressed that to the players. We are very much a work in progress. We are a decent team, but we are not there yet,” said Coyle.

Striker Andre Schembri was also in attendance at the media gathering, where he admitted that he and his teammates were in a much better place compared to the start of the season. “At the beginning of the season, we found it very difficult because we had a lot of new players who needed more time to gel together. To be honest, there are three pillars for a successful performance. One is passion. Two is confidence and three is commitment. In the last few months, we’ve had all these three pillars together. That’s one the main reason why the team is going in a successful way,” he said.

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