The tactician has interesting views regarding the development of Indian football.

Indian Super League (ISL) outfit Jamshedpur FC‘s head coach Owen Coyle recently had an insightful conversation with Khel Now on the ‘Beyond The Scores’ podcast. The 55-year-old opened up to host Ashish Negi on a host of topics including his debut Indian football assignment with Chennaiyin FC, experience of leading JFC, his hopes and aspirations with the Men of Steel ahead of the upcoming 2021-22 season, and more.

While all the above topics have been covered in our previous articles in this series, Part 4 pertains to Coyle’s views on the ISL as a whole, ways to improve the Indian football system, thoughts on the newly-proposed Reserves League and so on.

Speaking to Khel Now, the Scotsman gave his honest opinions on the current state of the league, challenging the clubs with big budgets, the future of Indian football and more.

The Reserves League

According to reports from various sources, the organizers of the Indian Super League are currently pondering the establishment of a ‘Reserves League’ among other things.

Giving his opinion on the need for such a league, Owen Coyle said, “I am all for anything that helps develop Indian football and helps the clubs. There is no doubt that a league as such would do that. In terms of a football question, yes. Reserves league, youth leagues… absolutely – get them all going. Get kids out playing football.

“The untapped potential in little villages all over, players with ability and this is the thing, when we can get them at an early age, then they are going to get better and better. If you do that, then the whole country is vibrant and energetic with all these young footballers that can aspire to be professionals. That’s what we all want, we want to improve the game,” he explained further on the need for a reserves league and why it is important.

AFC Champions League qualification for league toppers

FC Goa became the first Indian club ever to play in the group stages of the AFC Champions League earlier in 2021. They earned this chance by finishing as league toppers in the regular season of the ISL back in 2019-20.

There is a direct ACL qualification slot available for league toppers in the league. In our podcast, Coyle spoke on how this acts as a motivator for the other clubs in the division. He said, “Everybody wants to be at the highest level, wants to play against the best teams, the best players and the AFC affords you that.

“That was an incredible experience for Juan Ferrando and all the players, they have experienced that against those teams (in the ACL). They came away from those games thinking, we want a bit more of that. What you have got to do is, punch above your weight, do best with what you have and we’ve already shown we can do that. Everybody wants Champions League football,” he added. 

Analysis of Indian players

The tactician also talked about Indian players and what they must do to attain new heights in their careers.

“These boys (Anirudh Thapa, Lallianzuala Chhangte and others) are of a very high level, but if we get the kids early they can get to know these qualities even earlier. All the players are far more rounded in respect to understanding the game and that in turn will give Igor (Stimac) a real headache for the national team because there is a lot of emerging young talent,” Owen Coyle said.

“We want the national team to be doing well and fighting out for those big tournaments.”

Importance of coach education

Owen Coyle is an experienced coach, having worked at multiple clubs before. Speaking in light of that, he also talked about the need for good coaching education to further the progress of Indian football.

“I think it’s very important. If you can coach the coaches, they then pass that on to the next one and all of a sudden you have a conveyor belt. You have good coaches emerging. You want good Indian coaches to be in-charge of other teams,” he explained. 

The 55-year-old continued in this regard, saying, “It’s a vast country, the people are so warm and welcoming. The other thing they are is they are very hard-working and if they have a mind to do something, they’ll go and do it. I love that work-ethic. Same as in players, same as in coaches, if you could put the right building blocks in the right place, it will reap rewards.”

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