Chennaiyin FC head coach Owen Coyle commended his players’ outstanding performances after his side secured a much-needed win against Odisha FC in the Indian Super League (ISL) at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Chennai on Sunday.

Notably, by securing a 2-1 victory against the league leaders, Coyle’s men have put a curtain on Odisha FC’s 13-match unbeaten streak.

The Marina Machans took an early lead through Ankit Mukherjee, who redirected Rafael Crivellaro’s in-swinging corner at the near post. Moving forward, the Kalinga Warriors levelled the scoreline in the 78th minute with Roy Krishna’s clever-headed flick, which kept his side alive in the game. However, Aussie forward Jordan Murray scored the 94th-minute winner from Connor Shields’ corner-kick, which helped his side bag three crucial points to continue their chase for the final playoff spot.

Coyle acknowledged that they had assumed a very tough challenge against Sergio Lobera’s team, who are coming through a 13-match unbeaten streak. 

“We knew that it was always going to be a tough game against a very good opponent. A team that has been the best in the league this year. That’s why they sit at the top of the standings,” he said in the post-match press conference.

The head coach though urged his players to carry forward their performance with the same intensity and determination to earn a chance for themselves to be in the playoffs.

“We were excellent tonight, and the performances that we’ve been delivering have been okay, and should have resulted in more points,” he stated.

“We played a good first half against Mumbai City FC and played well against East Bengal FC. There have been lots of nice performances, but when you don’t get points, of course, you leave yourself open to criticism. You’ll pick up points that leave you where you are; that’s why tonight was so important,” he continued.

“We set out a marker that showed we’re still very much in the fight. We’ve been totally written off by everybody. That’s fine. But they have only looked at the results; we’ll be playing performance-wise, and still, there is more to come. But we have to keep playing at that level. We have obviously now set ourselves up for another home game. We’ve got to keep persevering and keep working on the good things we speak about,” he further added.

Coyle figured out how his players continued to work hard despite getting unfavourable results. But he shared his pleasure with his team’s performance, which showed their character on the pitch and showcased their commitment in their game to fight head-to-head against a formidable opponent.

“After beating Kerala Blasters FC, we’ve lost to Mumbai City FC and East Bengal FC. But we picked ourselves up, and we pushed on because this team is kind of what we’re building in the long term. It’s a team that is designed to win games,” he commented.

“Ultimately, we’ve lost a few. But that’s because we go to try and win. It’d be easy to be very negative against Odisha FC, but we were very positive from the offset. We took the game to them. We are at home. We’re looking to build something here, and we will. We thoroughly deserve the three points, and Sergio Lobera admitted that himself. So, the great three points give us another chance to build on them in our next home game. We’ve given ourselves a chance for an exciting end to finish the season,” he shared.

The Scottish head coach felt very happy for their supporters, who showed their unwavering support for their club and kept pushing his players during their difficulties. Speaking in context, he said,

“I’m pleased for the fans tonight because they came. The atmosphere was great, and it’s not easy when you’re a supporter of a fantastic club that we have become used to. We have had huge success in the early years. But in the last couple of years, if I’m honest, the club needs to do better, and that’s what my job is to do and what I’ll do. We are working hard behind the scenes, but in the meantime, we want to win games.”

Coyle wanted his players to level up their performance based on their result against Odisha FC. He remained optimistic about their chances of securing the final playoff spot but is very hopeful about doing well in their upcoming fixtures.

“This win is huge for me. Before the game, I told them, ‘It’s the biggest game of the season. We have to win the game to give ourselves a chance of reaching that prize (the ISL Cup).’ That’s what we’ve done,” he asserted.

“We have given ourselves a chance by performing well. Because if you can do it against teams of that calibre, then it shows that you’ll be ready for other teams that come to play against you,” he concluded.