Owen Coyle: Thapa the best Indian central midfielder in Hero ISL

Chennaiyin FC continued their surge up the table with an impressive 4-1 win over Jamshedpur FC at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Chennai on Thursday. The two-time Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) champions were seamless for large parts of the 90 minutes and notched up what was their third win on the bounce. With the three points, the Marina Machans leapfrog Jamshedpur and go within three points of the top four.

Speaking at the post-match press conference, Chennaiyin head coach Owen Coyle expressed his delight at the performance of his team. He said, “Coming into the game, we knew it would be a tough game. And it was a tough game. With (Sergio) Castel coming in, he is a fantastic player. (David) Grande is also good. So, they have very good attacking players. That being said, we knew that the game was about us. If we got to the level of performance that we have been lately, then we feel we are capable of winning games, scoring goals, entertaining.”

“So, I was delighted with how we went about it in the first half. We scored two goals, could have had a few more. We had some great chances. Jamshedpur also had opportunities. The game was end-to-end. It was a real feast of attacking football,” he added.

Pointing out the only negative part of his team’s performance in the match, Coyle commented, “We were not going to change the way we play. We are very attack minded. With that comes a bit of risk. The only thing I wasn’t happy with was the 10 minutes in the second half before their goal. I felt we slacked off a little. We never showed the same intensity that we had been showing.”

The reaction of his team after Castel’s goal, though, was something that really pleased the Chennaiyin boss. He said, “The reaction from my players was sensational. The pass from (Anirudh) Thapa for the third goal was wonderfully waited. Nerka (Nerijus Valskis) had a wonderful touch. From then on, we all knew that there was only going to be one winner. But you are never comfortable because there is good quality in the other team. But to score four goals, could have had six or seven, and another valuable three points, we loved the game. We certainly enjoyed what we did in the game.”

Lastly, Coyle reserved special praise for Thapa, who, in his eyes, is currently the best Indian midfielder in the Hero ISL. He said, “He is such a consistent performer. In the seven games I’ve been here, Thapa has been an integral part of what we do. I am the only coach in the league who plays two Indian central midfielders because I believe in them. They have my trust. Thapa was defensively brilliant. His passing, running with the ball, everything about his game. I thought he was outstanding. The better he plays, the better team we become. I’ve not seen a better Indian central midfielder in the league than Thapa.”

Read the Match Report here.

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