Owen Coyle: Respectful of Goa but we don’t fear them

Chennaiyin FC will be hoping to make it two wins from two when they host FC Goa at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Chennai on Thursday. Under the management of new head coach Owen Coyle, the two-time Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) champions have collected four points from two matches and have shown massive improvements in all facets of their game.

Coyle, speaking at his pre-match press conference, stressed the importance of maintaining similar levels against Goa and said, “We are in a nice place. The disappointment is that Eli (Sabia) is suspended, who is a fantastic player for us. That will be a miss, but that then allows someone to step in. So, we are in a good place and looking forward to the game.”

“We have an outstanding centre-back suspended. Without giving our game plan away, we are not going to change the way we play. We are at home. We are going to attempt and win the game. We know that if we are at our best, we are capable of winning games. That’s what we have to do,” he added.

The Scotland-born Irishmen, however, was aware of the task at hand, stating, “We face a fantastic opponent. For me, FC Goa are the best team in the country as the table shows. It doesn’t lie. They have so many points because they have quality. So, we are looking forward to it. We are at home again. We are very respectful of FC Goa but we do not fear them. We understand their qualities.”

Coyle then, went on to explain what he expects from his players on the pitch. “We want the players to express themselves, try to win the game because that is the best feeling. In the last match against Kerala, every one of our players played in the right way. They tried to pass, move. They tried to play with a smile and be positive. (Lallianzuala) Chhangte epitomises everything we are trying to do. So, we are really looking forward to the game.”

“When I came in, I expressed how we wanted to play. Every coach has different ways and philosophies to win a game of football. What we want to do is to play quickly with the ball, move it quickly. We have to find a balance between defence and attack. What we’re trying to stress is that our strength is as a group.”

The 53-year-old also highlighted his side’s recent improvement in the attacking third and noted, “We can score goals. We’ve already scored more in the last two games than we had scored all season. So, we are showing an attacking threat. And not only is Nerijus (Valskis) scoring, but Chhangte and Andre (Schembri) are starting to share the load. With the creativity of Rafa (Rafael Crivellaro), we will always create chances. We will have two very good attacking teams trying to win the game. FC Goa home or away, they try to win. I’ve been very impressed by the team and the coach.”

Chhangte, who accompanied Coyle at the media briefing, thanked his coach for the trust he had shown in him. He said, “If you have the trust of the coach, all you have to do is perform better and give extra effort. So, all I have to do is keep working hard, and listen to what the coach told me and perform in the match and help the team win.”

Read the Match Preview here.

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