Indian Super League | Coyle’s men deserve a round of applause

From the depths, Chennaiyin rose all the way before losing the title clash to ATK

Even the loss in the biggest game of the season would’ve done little to dampen the mood in the Chennaiyin FC camp.

Under the stewardship of Owen Coyle, the team rose from rock bottom, outplayed the league’s most entertaining side (FC Goa) in the playoffs and was also the dominant side in the final against ATK.

Poor finishing

If not for poor finishing, Chennaiyin would have probably clinched its third title.

“We want to win but also entertain while we do so,” said Coyle, while taking charge in December 2019. His players did just that, producing some exciting football.

At the Fatorda Stadium on Saturday, right from kick off, they moved the ball with urgency, passed with accuracy and only a goalline clearance denied Chennaiyin. All of this in under 60 seconds!

The Chennai outfit registered the lion’s share of possession (62%), had 279 more touches of the ball, played 299 more passes with a lot more accuracy (75% compared to ATK’s 58%).


Coyle’s love for the game and his positivity rubbed off on the players. He always spoke about taking it one game at a time, and it worked like a charm.

The Irishman landed in the middle of the season, made minor tweaks to his predecessor John Gregory’s system and everything suddenly fell in place. A side that was struggling to string together even a few meaningful passes steamrollered its opponents and made its climb up the table.

It was not just the new manager and his philosophy, but also the hard work on the training ground that brought about this transformation.

“If you don’t take your chances, it will come back to haunt you,” said Coyle after the final. “The spoils went to ATK... so all the very best to them.”

Earning respect

There might be regret but there won’t be sleepless nights, for the players and fans. Coyle’s men overcame all hurdles, brought the fans back to the stadium and earned back lost respect.

“Chennaiyin was the one team we did not want to face in the playoffs,” said FC Goa’s Clifford Miranda, the man in charge of the most entertaining and dominant side in ISL history.

From an also-ran to being feared by the best side in the country... that is Coyle’s legacy. And Chennaiyin’s incredible run, despite the reverse in the final, will be part of Indian football folklore.

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Printable version | Apr 10, 2020 7:08:36 PM |

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