Owen Coyle: Missed Thapa and Germanpreet’s presence in midfield

Chennaiyin FC had to settle for a point against Bengaluru FC at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Chennai on Sunday after a hard-fought battle which saw plenty of chances for both sides, particularly in the second half, but no goals. The point keeps Chennaiyin FC in fifth position in the Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2019-20 table with 22 points from 15 matches.

At the post-match press conference, Marina Machans’ head coach Owen Coyle said, “If you can’t win the game, then you must make sure that you don’t certainly lose the game. I think it was a hard-fought game. I think it was tremendous accolade to us that Bengaluru came and sat everybody behind the ball and tried to make it difficult for us. So, that was a big mark of respect to how we’ve been playing.”

Coyle then, pointed to the absence of Anirudh Thapa and Germanpreet Singh as a key reason behind his team’s slightly rusty display on the night. He said, “We probably lost a little bit of fluency given that Thapa was suspended and Germanpreet was injured. So, I had to sacrifice Andre (Schembri) and bring an extra midfielder. So, we lost a bit of continuity and attacking verve. We were always in control of the match. But a draw was probably fair. It might turn out to be an important point at the end of the season.”

The 53-year-old also shared his delight after seeing his team earn a rare clean sheet. “It’s always great to get a shutout. The disappointment is that we never scored at the other end. I think part of that had to do with the change in personnel. That being said, it could be a very, very important point,” Coyle commented.

With regards to the performance of midfielder Masih Saighani, the Chennaiyin boss opined, “I think he grew into the game. And it was always a plan that we were only going to get 60 minutes from him, because he hadn’t played week in, week out. So, I think he tried his very best. It was always a plan for him to play 60 minutes, which he did. He will still have a very important role to play in the games to come.”

Lastly, Owen looked ahead to the coming fixtures and noted, “We still have a very good chance of making it into the semi-finals. Our destiny is very much in our own hands. Three tough games in a row, but we’re looking forward to it. We will have Thapa back. Germanpreet also has a chance to be available. I’m looking forward to the games.”

Read the Match Report here.

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