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'All pressure on FC Goa...' - Chennaiyin FC coach Owen Coyle

Published at :April 19, 2024 at 7:02 PM
Modified at :April 20, 2024 at 7:19 PM
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(Courtesy : ISL Media)


Owen Coyle also talked about self-belief and having the quality to beat the Gaurs.

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Chennaiyin FC will face FC Goa at the Fatorda Stadium, Goa in the 2023-24 Indian Super League playoffs on 20 April 2024. Owen Coyle, the head coach of the outfit, will be looking to utilise his years of experience and guide the side into the semi-finals by navigating past an in-form opponent. It is building up to be a stern challenge for the Marina Machans but the tactician believes his team has the quality to go into the next round.

During the pre-match press conference, the tactician spoke about making changes, past games having no bearing and more. He was joined by centre-back Ryan Edwards who also shared his opinions.

Here are the excerpts:

Mood going into the knockout fixture

Owen Coyle expressed that his players are ready and they can beat anyone if they’re at their best. He said, “The mood in the camp is very good. The boys are excited and we’re looking forward to the game. We made eight changes (in the last outing) to rest the boys who wanted to be fresh for the game. So everybody has come through training well. We go there knowing how well we’ve been playing in the league, against Mohun Bagan, Jamshedpur FC, NorthEast United – the games that we had to win.”

He added, “We know we go there and a lot of people perceive that we’re big underdogs for the game. That’s fine, not a problem. We’re away from home, that’s fine too. But we’ve already won in these circumstances. When you go to the Salt Lake Stadium and win, you can win anywhere. If these boys are at their very best, then we know it’s a game we can win.”

“We’re very respectful of the quality that FC Goa have. They’ve got a very good team and spent an awful lot of money last summer to assemble the squad, both internationally and with the addition of the domestic players. Chennaiyin have got a nice record of going to Goa for big games and that is what we are to do. I’ve been there myself. In the sixth ISL season, Goa were arguably one of the best teams in the league. They carried all before them in the league, if you remember. Over the two pieces, over the two games, we were much better than them,” he elaborated.

“I think even last year, Chennaiyin FC played FC Goa in the last game of the season, and the Gaurs could have qualified for the playoffs. Chennaiyin FC had nothing to play for because they were out of the playoffs race but won the game. So, that ultimately has nothing to do with tomorrow night, but in terms of how the club’s done in big games and playoffs against Goa, they’ve fared very well. So that’s where we’ll focus on, making sure that our group is ready to give their best. And if they are, we’ll show them that we can win big games. But we’re very clear that we need to be at our best to win the game because we know they’re a good side. If we are, we’re more than capable of winning a tough match,” he stated.

Past defeats to FC Goa

Talking about the three defeats in the 2023-24 season to FC Goa, Owen Coyle suggested that those games mean nothing going into the fixture tomorrow. He quoted, “That’s all rubbish. They won three games. They won the Durand Cup game. They won a game last week where we made eight changes and they won a game at home where they played very well. Whatever games we’ve played this year have got nothing to do with anything. Mohun Bagan came to it and won in their place, didn’t they? I didn’t see them win at the Salt Lake. All the pressure is on FC Goa tomorrow. They’re the team expected to win. They’re the team that was close to winning the Shield this season but failed. Now they have to come into the playoffs as we’ve done. We’ve come through the tough way to do that.”

On facing FC Goa at the Fatorda

The tactician indicated that there will be several changes in the Chennaiyin FC line-up and his team can perform well against the Gaurs despite playing away from home. He mentioned, “For several reasons, FC Goa had to win last week to try and still finish second in the ISL. We didn’t. We’d already done our job against all the odds when everybody had written us off. These boys keep bouncing back, they keep showing unbelievable character. Real team spirit, real desire.”

Ryan Edwards on the team’s closeness

Ryan Edwards, the skipper, talked about whether being a close-knit group gives Chennaiyin FC an advantage. He said, “I think it certainly helps. It’s all well and good being a close-knit group, but you’ve got to go on the field and perform. Otherwise, that counts for nothing.

“I’ve been in dressing rooms where there were good groups and not-so-good groups. Sometimes it’s the not-so-well group which goes on to do better. It can help to your advantage but it comes down to the 90-minute game now. It’s into the knockout games. We all want to do well and go through and win the trophy. If we thought any different, we might as well have not qualified. We might as well have not put all this hard work in to get where we are now. We’re not here now to go home on Saturday. We’re here to win a trophy, which will be all the six teams’ aim. We’re no different.”

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