Kolkata, February 16, 2020: Chennaiyin FC outclassed ATK FC 3-1 in the Hero Indian Super League here on Sunday to further boost their credentials of finishing in the top four and making the play-offs. And while the foreign players in Rafael Crivellaro, Andre Schembri and Nerijus Valskis got on the scoresheet, the Indian players provided the fulcrum on which the victory was built.
With India set to take on Qatar in the FIFA World Cup qualifiers next month, national team coach Igor Stimac who was in attendance in Kolkata, would’ve been left with a lot to ponder with some impressive displays from the Indian contingent.
Anirudh Thapa and Edwin Vanspaul ran the show in midfield with Jerry Lalrinzuala and Laldinliana Renthlei working tirelessly in the wing-back roles. Lallianzuala Chhangte created a host of chances and was unlucky not to score while Vishal Kaith barring the goal looked a solid presence between the sticks, ever improving.
And CFC Head Coach Owen Coyle further complimented the Indian players’ performances while also revealing his post-match chat with Stimac.
“I spoke to the Indian national team coach Igor (Stimac), the players have been a joy to work with.”
“For me, I think 5-6 of our players would now be knocking on the door (of a national team call-up). The coach (Stimac) has alluded to that as well. He was delighted with the performances.”
The former Burnley manager is the only technician in the ISL to field two Indians in midfield. And his stand was further vindicated with Thapa bagging two assists on his 50th ISL appearance and Edwin winning the Man of the Match award for his imposing performance in midfield.
“He (Stimac) spoke about Edwin (Vanspaul) to me as well. Edwin was deployed at full-back first, he even played there for me a few games. And then to play in the midfield position with Thapa, you need quick feet. His energy levels are fantastic. I brought him off honestly because he had given everything. When you finish a game for me, you should physically and mentally exhausted. You should have no more to give. And the likes of Thapa and Edwin do exactly that.”
“And Thapa, you saw out there for yourself, his performance justifies everything I’ve said about him. Especially against some fantastic foreign midfielders that ATK have.”
I keep asking more of the players and they keep delivering. Honestly me and my Assistant Coach Sandy (Stewart) have absolutely enjoyed working with them all. And for me, that augurs well with the national team as well.
Coyle was also full of praise for full-backs Dinliana and Jerry who were effective on both ends of the pitch.
“Their (ATK’s) right-back Prabir Das is an outstanding player, gets good crosses into the box. He was at the heart of some good ATK moves. I thought Jerry did really well against him. And not just off the ball, I felt Jerry did very well on the ball as well.”
“We knew that if we took care of the ball, we would impose our system on ATK. And because we were so careful in possession, it allowed us to dominate the game. We caused them real problems.”
The Chennaiyin gaffer concluded with a good feeling for his team’s Indian starlets in terms of their potential national call-ups.
“It’s good to see the young Indian players improving. It’s great for the League and great for the national team as well. I think the coach (Stimac) was delighted with many of the performances.”