Chennaiyin FC head coach Owen Coyle expressed disappointment as his team was stunned by Hyderabad FC in the Indian Super League (ISL) at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Chennai on Saturday.

The Marina Machans and Hyderabad FC battled out an end-to-end match where both teams tested their opposition's defence. It took Hyderabad FC a solid 90 minutes to finally break the deadlock with Sajad Parray finding a touch from a set-piece situation, giving his team a lead to sustain till the final whistle. 

Although Chennaiyin FC tried their best to level the scores, a resilient Hyderabad FC managed to keep the score 1-0 in their favour, stealing all three points and registering their first win of the ongoing league season.

Chennaiyin FC had been the better team on the pitch holding 68.2% possession and taking 12 shots compared to Hyderabad FC’s 10 attempts. The head coach blamed their missed opportunities for the unfortunate loss that saw Hyderabad FC register their maiden win in the ISL 2023-24 season. 

“Well, obviously, first and foremost the result is, I mean, I can't apologize enough to the fans who have turned out to see us losing the game tonight. I think ultimately, we missed big chances. We create so many chances, (but) we don't take them,” stated Coyle at the post-match press conference.

He continued, “To be fair to Hyderabad FC, they stuck to their guns, with everybody back behind the ball and they've got some quick boys like (Abdul) Rabeeh and they were quick on the counter-attack. So, that was the game plan anyway.” 

In a thrilling turn of events, right-back Parray emerged as the hero for Hyderabad FC, coolly slotting the winning goal past Debjit Majumder from a set-piece opportunity.

Addressing the late goal from Parray, Coyle said, “It only takes one mistake, which was to offer another free-kick to the back post and you find yourself 1-0 down.”

With a win tonight, the Marina Machans would have had the same points (21 points) as sixth-placed Jamshedpur FC with a game in hand, making the Coyle’s men the favourites for the final playoff berth. 

The Scottish tactician is disappointed to have failed to utilize this opportunity.

We let everybody down tonight (Saturday). It was an unbelievable opportunity to go into the top six tonight,” he sighed.

He added, “And it was a great opportunity against a team that is down at the bottom, having beaten the top team (Odisha FC), last week. So that's, I mean, I'm so frustrated and they, I think the fans, the owners, I think everybody's been let down badly today.”

Brazilian midfielder Rafael Crivellaro, who has been a pivotal player for Chennaiyin FC so far, was subbed off in the 57th minute having created only two chances for his team and with a passing accuracy of 61%, which can considered poor given his ability with the ball. 

Justifying himself, Coyle shared, “ He (Crivellaro) didn't play well tonight. That's why he came off, as did some others. I expect (the players to do better), knowing the qualities that people have, then they never got to that level of performance. That's the truth of the matter. And that's not just one player. That's a host of players, a number one, both foreign and domestic alike. And not enough of them did anything.”

The 57-year-old was full of praise for Hyderabad FC custodian Laxmikant Kattimani who made seven saves and seven clearances against Chennayin FC, thus racking up their first clean sheet of the season.

“Kattimani did well tonight. It was good. Obviously, he's come back from a long-term injury and the more he plays, the better he's doing,” he opined.

Hyderabad FC have been depending on their young Indian players for the vast majority of this season. With this win, they have become the first team to register a win in the ISL fielding an all-Indian side. 

Appreciating Hyderabad FC for bringing the best out of these players, Coyle shared, “They work their socks off. And that's what you get with young players. You never know how good they are until you give them a chance.”

Coyle shared an optimistic approach towards their chances of making it through to the playoffs. 

“What we've got to do is re-group, understand what we need to do better. And we've shown big performances before and we have to go and probably, certainly, need a minimum of three (wins). But probably, you know, I would suggest probably 28, 29 points if you're going to get in the playoffs. And to do that we need to win three and draw one of the next four games. Simple as that. When we're at our best, we're capable of doing that,” he signed off.