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The tactician gave his opinions on several topics including the proposed foreigner rul and the salary cap in the ISL.
Owen Coyle’s conversation with Khel Now on the Beyond The Scores podcast was memorable. The Jamshedpur FC head coach was candid in sharing his views about everything related to Indian football. He spoke at length about the Indian Super League, the experience with Chennaiyin FC and the Indian national team.
Furthermore, the Scotsman has high expectations from the upcoming season, which will be his third in India. Continuing the conversation, Owen Coyle also spoke about the current state of the Indian national team. He gave his opinion on their performances and the progress under Igor Stimac. Here are few excerpts from the conversation with JFC head coach, Owen Coyle.
Being fair to Igor Stimac
The 55-year-old gave an insight into what he thinks of India’s head coach, Igor Stimac and the challenges he faces. He said, “I know Igor because I speak with him many times. I know his thought process, what his vision is. You have to be fair to Igor that what he wants to implement, he has not been allowed that opportunity to do for a number of reasons. I thought they competed well…playing against a few very good teams as well. The players getting in, they were not getting in fresh. Obviously, the season had ended and there was a gap, so I think you have to be fair.
“I think they are on the right track, it’s a bit harsh to be overcritical. If I’m honest in my opinion, but that’s the beauty of football. From knowing the man, I know he has a mind that knows what he wants to do and if they do that, there is no doubt they will get better and get competitive because you want to be in those championships (Asian Cup and World Cup).”
National team coaching opportunities
Owen Coyle has not managed a national team in his long career in football coaching. Talking about if there could be a day where he is coaching a national football team, he said, “You never say never in football. I have been very fortunate and very blessed to have my career in football. I have loved the clubs I have been at.
“In time, who knows, there are still many more years ahead. I love what I do, but if it (international coaching job) ever comes about, of course, I love working with players, I love punching above our weight. So, in football, you never say never.”
Difference in managing a national team & a club
The tactician also gave his opinion on what are the key differences between managing a national team to a club. “It’s completely different. In a club, you have the players every day. As a national manager, you may be getting those players three days before, so of course, it is a challenge.
“That’s why I think when Igor tried to put the camps together, when there has not been games, that would be really important because it gets that group of players together. It is difficult (to create team bonding) due to time constraints,” Coyle added in this context.
India’s FIFA World Cup 2026 ambitions
India is more hopeful to qualify after the revelation that the World Cup tournament will be expanded and Asian slots will see an increase. Talking about if 2026 is a realistic target for the Blue Tigers, Owen Coyle said, “I think it is a realistic target. I think we have to extend the league, play more games, but there is no doubt with the new talent that is coming through. Of course 2026, in five years, is certainly achievable, but sooner we get those (authorities) involved, let’s grow those Indian footballers as we have done with the cricketers.”
“Let’s be a force in football. Let’s grow our football and get India moving in the right direction,” he concluded.
Prospect of signing Cristiano Ronaldo
That he has an autographed jersey of Cristiano Ronaldo framed in the wall of his room, tells you how much Owen Coyle admires the five-time Ballon d’Or winner. “I would love that to be my next signing,” he quipped talking about dream signings. But soon came the reality check as Coyle cheekily added, “But I think signing Ronaldo would be a little too much money for the club.”
The four foreigners rule
From the next edition of the ISL and onwards, clubs can only field four foreign players at a time in the playing XI. Talking about the introduction of this new rule, Coyle added, “I think the foreigners’ situation is the same for everyone. You have to make the best of what you have. What it does do is give another opportunity for a young Indian player to step in and that’s great for the national team, great for the growth of Indian football.”
“All these steps are steps in the right direction to what we all want, improvement in the Indian game.” Coyle hopes.