Chennaiyin FC head coach Owen Coyle had a lot of praise for Punjab FC despite suffering a defeat by a single-goal margin against the Shers in the Indian Super League (ISL) at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi on Monday.

Madih Talal was the main creative spark in the midfield for the home side, and it was his goal in the second half that made the difference tonight. The Shers had a few more opportunities through Juan Mera and Wilmar Jordan Gil, but they failed to convert those chances. The visitors also had their opportunities in both halves, but they couldn't find their desired goal.

Coyle commended his opponents' players for their indomitable spirit and hard work in securing their first three points of the season.

“Punjab FC did very well tonight,” Coyle said in the post-match press conference.

“I thought they worked their socks off. Madih Talal was very good; Luka Majcen and some other players did very well. So, credit to Punjab FC; they played (really) well," he added.

Despite their 1-0 loss against Punjab FC, Coyle believes his team is performing well this season. When speaking about his team’s performance this season, he said, "We've been doing very well. We came into this game with twelve points from ten games. So Chennaiyin FC have been doing very well coming into the game. Obviously, Punjab FC are playing at home, and we're the away (side). Punjab FC got the goal in the second half—a very good goal. Madih Talal was outstanding all night."

Coyle opined that the game was open for both teams in the second half, as Chennaiyin FC was determined to score the equalizer after conceding the goal in the 56th minute. He believes that it’s very easy for players like Wilmar Jordan Gil, Luka Majcen, Jordan Murray, and Rafael Crivellaro to utilize that time to score by exploiting the opponent’s defence. However, he also shared that his team should have done better in these situations.

“In the second half (after conceding the goal), we committed a lot of players forward because we're losing 1-0 and we have to try and get back in the game,” he said.

“And when you do that, the game opens up, and the spaces open up. Players like Wilmar Jordan Gil, Luka Majcen, Jordan Murray, and Rafael Crivellaro can exploit these spaces when games open up. We could have done a lot better in these situations. I think we gifted one or two (chances), because of our lack of quality passing on the ball, and that's something that we need to do better,” he explained.

Coyle believes that with their loss against the Shers, the race for the sixth spot becomes more open. However, he thinks his team will bounce back and put up a strong fight for that position.

“We'll take our punch in the nose, which is tonight. We’ll look to make it 15 points from eight games and (obviously) continue the upward trajectory that we've had in the league. What we've done now is just give the teams below (in the league table) a bit of encouragement to reach out for that 6th spot at the moment. We, the aspirations, are pushing further (for the sixth spot), and that's the nature of football,” he continued.

Coyle wants to see this loss as a learning lesson for all his players. He also shared that injuries to Lazar Cirkovic and Ankit Mukherjee have heavily impacted their game plan, forcing them to play with an unsettled back line.

Speaking in this context, he said, "Certainly a learning curve tonight for a lot. But losing Lazar Cirkovic just before the game was a big blow (for us) because we had a settled backline. Ankit Mukherjee comes off with a hamstring just after 10–15 minutes, so we've got to move things about again. In the second half, it's not been a settled back line that's playing."

“We're not (having) an enjoyable night for any of us; that's for sure associated with the club, but it's happened, and we'll look to bounce back quickly,” he signed off.