Owen Coyle: We earned our right to be in the top four

Chennaiyin FC confirmed their berth in the Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2019-20 semi-finals with a 1-0 win over a ten-man Mumbai City FC side at the Mumbai Football Arena on Friday. Chennaiyin captain and former Mumbai City player Lucian Goian scored the late winner for Owen Coyle's men in what was a poetic finish to the match.

At the post-match press conference, Coyle summed up the contest and said, “We obviously set out to win the game, that was our intention from the start. The first 15 minutes, we controlled the game. We were a threat. Credit to Mumbai that they came back in the match. They have four good foreign players up top and they can create problems. I think, during that phase we got a bit caught up in the occasion. That being said, we were always in control.”

“In the second half, Lallianzuala Chhangte was through on goal but was brought down by Sourav Das. I think it was a clear red card. From that point on, we were in control. Mumbai are always dangerous at home, even with ten men and we had to make sure we could make the extra man count. We could have done it better but we scored and am delighted at the way Lucian Goian kept his composure to score as anyone would be nervous in these types of situations. We could have scored a second too,” he added.

Recognizing Mumbai for the tough challenge they threw at his team on the night, Coyle opined, “Jorge Costa is a wonderful coach and Mumbai have some very good players, a great set up, an organization. They have a great spirit, great discipline. They kept going. It’s satisfying to keep a clean sheet in Mumbai as not many teams manage that. But we certainly were deserved winners and earned the right to be in the top four. Now that we are here, we certainly hope we can see it through.”

Revealing an unforeseen challenge which cropped up during the build up to the crucial tie, the Irishman informed, “We weren’t as fluid as we have been lately, but I have to credit the players for the way they stepped up. Four players, including Nerijus Valskis, had food poisoning last night. We showed real character, mental strength, desire tonight. We can still improve but this team has great qualities.”

Speaking about potential semi-final opponents, Coyle noted, “If you see the top four teams, they are all very good. But we are here, too, on merit. We will play against whichever team we have to, be it FC Goa, ATK FC or Bengaluru. These will certainly be interesting games.”

Read the Match Report here.

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