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ISL 2023-24: Coyle praises Chennaiyin FC's character after comeback win over MBSG; WATCH highlights

Chennaiyin FC scored thrice in the second-half to come from behind and secure a 3-2 victory against the Mohun Bagan Super Giant (MBSG) at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata in the Indian Super League (ISL) 2023-24 on Sunday.

football ISL 2023-24: Coyle praises Chennaiyin FC's character after comeback win over MBSG; WATCH highlights snt
First Published Apr 1, 2024, 10:53 AM IST

Chennaiyin FC's head coach Owen Coyle expressed satisfaction with his players as they staged an impressive comeback, overturning a 1-0 deficit to clinch a victory against Mohun Bagan Super Giant in the Indian Super League (ISL) clash at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan in Kolkata on Sunday.

Initially, both teams struggled to maintain possession, but it was the home side that broke the deadlock 29 minutes into the game, courtesy of Joni Kauko's first goal for the Mariners since his return. However, Australian forward Jordan Murray equalized for the Marina Machans deep into the second half, and centre-back Ryan Edwards secured the lead for them in the 80th minute.

A late penalty in injury time offered Mohun Bagan SG a chance to salvage a draw, which Dimitri Petratos successfully converted. Nevertheless, Irfan Yadwad's last-gasp goal moments before the final whistle sealed a thrilling 3-2 victory for Chennaiyin FC.

Coyle’s men came to Kolkata fresh from a defeat against Hyderabad FC with the head coach demanding a show of character from his players. 

“After letting ourselves down and letting our fans down against Hyderabad FC, I needed a big test of character and I have seen it tonight,” stated Coyle at the post-match press conference.

He continued, “I think anybody watching the game, any neutral fan, would have loved the game because it was two teams going all out to win.”

Introduced in the 88th minute, 22-year-old Irfan Yadwan made a remarkable impact as a substitute. Seizing on an opportunity as Mohun Bagan SG goalkeeper Vishal Kaith advanced from his goal, Yadwad smoothly evaded Kaith and confidently netted the winning goal for his team, marking his debut ISL goal in style.

Full of praise for the youngster, the Scot shared, “For young Irfan (Yadwad), he's a young Indian number nine who has got a lot to learn. He scored in the Super Cup. He's had five or six chances before in the Indian Super League to score. So to get his goal and what it meant and the quality showed, that will stand him in good stead. So I'm working with him daily and you can see his improvement, but there's still a lot of stuff to come.”

With 21 points from 19 matches, Chennaiyin FC climbed to ninth place on the league table, trailing sixth-placed Bengaluru FC by just a single point with a game in hand.

Coyle remains hopeful that his team's playoff aspirations are within reach, provided they maintain the level of performance demonstrated against Odisha FC and Mohun Bagan SG in their forthcoming two matches.

He said, “We've got it all to do two home games now against two very good teams, Jamshedpur FC, who I know very well, and NorthEast United FC. But if we can replicate the performance level from tonight, from against Odisha FC, then of course it can lead to points and if we can win games, it gives us a great opportunity of trying to attain that sixth spot.”

“But listen, there are six teams that feel the exact same way as I do,” he added.

Happy with his team’s performance and his own strategy for the match, the 57-year-old shared, “I had to try and nullify Mohun Bagan SG's strengths, but still allow us to be creative and attack-minded. And we did that. We were very brave tonight.”

Sharing his aim with the Marina Machans, Coyle stated, “I know how honourable they (Chennaiyin FC) are and I want to try and get Chennaiyin FC back to the heights where it's been before. Now that's a real challenge because there's some big, big clubs in this country, but I know we can do it because I've done it before and that's what I'll try and do.”

Chennaiyin FC's goalkeeper Debjit Majumder showcased brilliance against Mohun Bagan SG, pulling off 11 crucial saves. The head coach expressed his admiration for Majumder's performance, echoing his appreciation for the rest of the team's efforts.

He said, “I think Debjit (Majumder) is probably taking more crosses in the league than anybody. He's brave, he's experienced and he's a great lad. And I think he showed tonight, you know, a top-level performance when it was needed because when it got to 3-2 and there was, I think it was six minutes, it became nine minutes. Then you had to stand up and be counted. And Debjit showed his real quality.”

“And I'm delighted for him as I am all the boys, and it's always nice when within a team performance you're very good at individual performances. I think that's a good point,” stated Coyle.

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