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ISL 2023-24 season review: Chennaiyin FC

Published at :May 24, 2024 at 9:38 PM
Modified at :May 25, 2024 at 4:36 PM
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(Courtesy : ISL Media)


Chennaiyin FC need quite some improvements going into the next season.

Chennaiyin FC, the two-time ISL Cup champions, had fallen on hard times. Languishing in the lower half of the table for three consecutive seasons (2020-2023), their once-glorious title aspirations seemed a distant memory. Determined to reignite the spark, the club brought back a familiar face – manager Owen Coyle.

Coyle’s return wasn’t an instant fix. The initial stages saw setbacks, but the Scotsman remained resolute. He focused on building a winning mentality and coaxing the best out of his players. This dedication paid off spectacularly. The result? A dramatic late surge up the table. Chennaiyin FC embarked on a stunning late-season surge, clawing their way up the table and ultimately securing a coveted playoff spot, breaking a three-year absence from the knockout stages. This turnaround is a testament to Coyle’s coaching expertise and the unwavering spirit of the Chennaiyin players.

Fact sheet for Chennaiyin FC

ISL 2023-24 season review: Chennaiyin FC

Top Performers

Connor Shields

Connor Shields proved to be a vital asset for his team throughout the season due to his exceptional adaptability and consistent performance across multiple positions. His ability to seamlessly transition between different roles on the field showcased his versatility and tactical understanding of the game. Whether deployed as a striker, winger, or midfielder, Shields consistently delivered impactful contributions to the team’s gameplay.

Moreover, Shields’ adaptability extended beyond positional shifts, as he excelled in different tactical roles, including a box-to-box midfielder and a creative playmaker. His ability to contribute both offensively and defensively was reflected in his impressive statistics, including three goals, two assists, chances created (31), key passes (29), and shots on target (4).

Aakash Sangwan

ISL 2023-24 season review: Chennaiyin FC Aakash Sangwan

Aakash Sangwan emerged as the defensive stalwart for his club, showcasing exceptional skill and reliability throughout the season. With two crucial goals to his name, Sangwan not only demonstrated defensive prowess but also made valuable contributions in attack, evidenced by his impressive 17 chances created. His defensive capabilities were further underscored by his impressive statistics, including 32 clearances, 72 recoveries, and 30 interceptions. Sangwan’s ability to win duels and tackles consistently, with 29 duels won and 24 tackles won respectively, exemplified his tenacity and determination on the field.

Rafael Crivellaro

Rafael Crivellaro proved to be the creative force behind his team’s success, dazzling fans and teammates alike with his exceptional playmaking abilities. With an impressive tally of four goals and seven assists, Crivellaro was not only a goal-threat himself but also played a pivotal role in setting up scoring opportunities for his teammates. His remarkable vision and passing accuracy were evident in his 42 chances created and 35 key passes, demonstrating his ability to unlock opposition defenses with ease. Crivellaro’s contributions extended beyond the attacking third, as shown by his defensive efforts with five interceptions and 23 clearances.

Furthermore, Crivellaro’s work rate and commitment were highlighted by his 80 recoveries, showcasing his willingness to track back and help out defensively when needed. With 16 shots on target, Crivellaro also posed a constant threat to opposition goalkeepers, showcasing his ability to test the goalies from range.

Under-performer of the season

Irfan Yadwad

Despite his impressive track record in the I-League, Irfan Yadwad’s transition to Chennaiyin FC did not yield the expected results. Despite scoring 36 goals in 34 games for Bengaluru United in the previous season, the 22-year-old struggled to find his rhythm with the Marina Machans. With just one goal from 17 appearances, Irfan’s goal conversion rate plummeted to 6.67%, a stark contrast to his prolific scoring form in the I-League.

Additionally, his disciplinary issues, evidenced by four yellow cards, further compounded his underwhelming performance. Overall, Irfan’s inability to replicate his previous success left fans disappointed, marking him as an underperformer for the season.

Top performances

Chennaiyin FC 5-1 Punjab FC

Mohun Bagan 2-3 Chennaiyin FC

Chennaiyin FC 2-1 Odisha FC

Manager’s report card

Owen Coyle

ISL 2023-24 season review: Chennaiyin FC Owen Coyle
Owen Coyle is building a solid team for next season. (Courtesy: ISL)

Under the stewardship of Owen Coyle, Chennaiyin FC embarked on a remarkable journey of resurgence, determined to reclaim their position among the league’s elite. Coyle’s return to the helm marked a significant moment for the club, signaling their unwavering commitment to success. From the outset, Coyle embraced the challenge with enthusiasm, recognizing the need to instill a winning mentality within the squad. Despite facing initial setbacks and challenges, Coyle’s steady leadership and tactical acumen gradually began to bear fruit. He took considerable time to familiarize himself with the squad and understand their strengths and weaknesses. Through meticulous planning and astute decision-making, Coyle succeeded in bringing out the best in his players, nurturing a culture of resilience and determination that would define their season.

One of the most notable aspects of Coyle’s tenure was his emphasis on set-piece proficiency. Recognizing the potential to capitalize on dead-ball situations, he worked tirelessly to refine the team’s approach to set-pieces. With players like Rafael Crivellaro orchestrating set-piece moves and delivering pinpoint deliveries, Chennaiyin FC became a formidable threat from corners and free-kicks. The aerial prowess of players like Ryan Edwards and Jordan Murray further bolstered their effectiveness in set-piece situations, often leading to crucial goals and decisive moments in matches.

Owen Coyle’s tactical astuteness and ability to inspire his players were evident in their performances on the field. Chennaiyin FC displayed a newfound resilience and determination, grinding out results against formidable opponents and showcasing their ability to compete at the highest level. Victories over established teams like Mohun Bagan and Odisha FC served as testament to Coyle’s impact on the squad, as they consistently punched above their weight and exceeded expectations.

Lessons to be learned

The 2023-24 season posed several challenges for Chennaiyin FC, particularly in defense. The team struggled to maintain solidity at the back, conceding a significant number of chances and goals throughout the league stages. The staggering statistics – 234 chances conceded and 36 goals let in – underscore the need for defensive improvement. While individual brilliance can often mitigate defensive lapses, a cohesive and organized backline is essential for consistent performance over the course of a season. Chennaiyin FC must focus on tightening their defensive structure, improving communication among defenders, and implementing tactical strategies to minimize opposition’s chances of creating or scoring.

Additionally, the season highlighted the significance of squad depth and tactical flexibility. Looking ahead, Chennaiyin FC must prioritize defensive reinforcements while also strengthening other areas of the squad, particularly midfield and attack. Coach Owen Coyle’s insights and experience gained from the season will be invaluable in identifying areas for improvement and shaping the team’s strategy for the future. By learning from the challenges faced this season and making necessary adjustments, Chennaiyin FC can position themselves for a more successful campaign in the upcoming term.

Fan view

ISL 2023-24 season review: Chennaiyin FC Kevin
Fan Kevin posing with Debjit Majumder.

Initially we were all skeptical even though Owen Coyle was a familiar face. We just wanted to have a better season than last edition. Throughout the ISL season, our journey began with a tentative start, but as time progressed, our momentum surged, culminating in three consecutive stunning comeback wins. The first win against Hyderabad FC finally felt like a relief and then consecutive wins and after a hiatus of three years, we proudly clinched a coveted spot in the playoffs and that was a proud moment for all the fans.

Despite securing the sixth position in the league table, our season has been nothing short of a thrilling rollercoaster for our dedicated fans. We have retained our captain already, and with so many transfer rumours we are already excited for our next season. Under Coyle’s astute leadership, our team has shown remarkable resilience and determination, overcoming challenges and obstacles along the way. As we look towards the future, there is an air of optimism surrounding the team. We believe in our team’s potential to grow stronger and perform even better next season.

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