Owen Coyle: We have done remarkably well to come this far
Chennaiyin FC and ATK FC, two former Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) champions, face off against each other at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan in Kolkata on Sunday. Chennaiyin are among the three teams still in the hunt for a top-four spot and need to beat ATK to keep their semi-final hopes alive.
Speaking at the pre-match press conference, head coach Owen Coyle gave his views on the upcoming challenge against ATK, “We have come here to win. ATK have 12 points from their last five matches whereas we have picked 13 from our last five. They will be looking for a win to get that top spot in the league table and we need the three points to try and take us closer to the top four. It will be a difficult game because they are a very good team. But equally, they will also know that we are a good team with very good players. We look to be close to our full strength and we have shown that when we are at our best, we can win games.”
The Irishman also spoke about the improvement of Chennaiyin since his arrival, “When I came, we were at the bottom of the league. We have done remarkably well to get to where we are and now, we have to try to finish the job and look to win against ATK. We have shown that we have good players and we can win games. To win, we have to be at our best. ATK are a good team, they have a good set of players and they are in very good form as well. We must match that and show our quality. We’re close to full strength as well. The game against Mumbai will be a special game, but first and foremost, we need to beat ATK.”
The 53-year-old then went on to shower praise on the performances of his players, especially the youngsters in the squad. He shared, “I love working with the boys, especially (Anirudh) Thapa, because they keep pushing themselves every day. We have good individual players. Young Didliana (Laldinliana Renthlei) has been outstanding. (Edwin) Vanspaul has played well since moving into the midfield position after Germanpreet Singh’s injury. Andre (Schembri) came into the team and has been effective in the forward areas. (Lalliazuala) Chhangte is getting better and better. Everybody needs to play their part. The team spirit is high.”
He was joined by Thapa, who is slated to make his 50th appearance for the club on Sunday. When asked about the milestone, the 22-year-old said, “The journey has been fantastic. Chennaiyin is like my second family. I joined this club at the age of 18 and now I have reached the milestone of 50 matches. It’s a big thing for me. It is an important match for the club. I am more focused on that because we need the points.”
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