ISL: High-spirited Chennaiyin hosts hungry Jamshedpur

Coming off a refreshing 2-0 win over NorthEast United, Chennaiyin will take on an equally hungry Jamshedpur at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on Thursday.

In his six games in charge, Owen Coyle has marshalled Chennaiyin to three wins and a draw and the side has an outside chance of making the playoffs.   -  SPORTZPICS/ISL

It's been over two years since Chennaiyin FC last won more than two league games on the trot. And that run came in the side's Indian Super League (ISL) title-winning campaign in 2017-18.

The club endured a nightmarish season last year as it finished at the bottom of the ISL table and subsequently saw the departure of coach John Gregory in November. His successor, Owen Coyle, has managed a remarkable turnaround. In his six games in charge, the Scotsman has marshalled the two-time ISL champion to three wins and a draw and the side has an outside chance of making the playoffs.

Coming off a refreshing 2-0 win over NorthEast United, Coyle's men will take on an equally hungry Jamshedpur FC at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here on Thursday.

Jamshedpur and Chennaiyin are both on the same boat – neither club can afford to drop any points going forward.

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Chennaiyin FC head coach Owen Coyle with goalkeeper Vishal Kaith.   -  Sahil Hussain I

 

And Coyle is well aware of the challenge. “We have given ourselves a lot to do with our start. But now we are playing well, scoring goals and have given ourselves a chance to climb the table. Jamshedpur has a fine side and great coach but we will concentrate on what we can do. If we play to our maximum, it gives us a chance to close in on a playoff spot and make an exciting end to the league,” he said on the eve of the match.

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Coyle's first game in the ISL was in fact against Jamshedpur, a game that ended in a frustrating 1-1 draw. With his side looking much better now, the 53-year-old is eager to make amends.

“We should have left that game with the three points. That being said, it was a good introduction to the league. Jamshedpur is coming after a big lift, having won against Kerala Blasters. For us, what was important we managed to score goals. We have shown we are dangerous offensively. But we need to have some balance. I think we are moving in the right direction but we are nowhere near being the finished article.”

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From left to right: Goalkeeping coach Alfonso Lacasa, head coach Antonio Iriondo, and midfielder Noe Acosta.   -  Sahil Hussain I

Jamshedpur also comes into the tie on the high of snapping its six-match winless run as it secured 3-2 win over Kerala Blasters last week. Coach Antonio Iriondo remains optimistic about his side's chances, despite a poor away record. “Every game is like a final for us from here on. It is true that we have one win away from home but we have had a few draws and some games we could have won. Now the team is better with Noe (Acosta) and Sergio (Castel) back. We are hoping that we get more wins and things will be better from here on.”

Taking note of the home side's spirited attacking displays over the last few games, the Spaniard said: “Chennaiyin have a great attacking team. They have changed spirit in matches. They didn't start very good but we see them now in the fight for the playoffs.”

Jamshedpur will be boosted by ace striker Sergio Castel's return but will miss the services of defensive mainstay Tiri, who suffered a rib injury in the previous game. Piti will miss the game, having not travelled with the team, while Chennaiyin is likely to miss Germanpret Singh, who is carrying a niggle.

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