Mumbai, February 21, 2020: Chennaiyin FC face off with Mumbai City FC in a virtual Hero Indian Super League quarter-final at the Mumbai Sports Arena here on Friday, with the winner assured a top-four spot and a place in the semis.
Head Coach Owen Coyle shared his team’s undeterring approach going into the big clash, unfazed by the pressure of the situation.
“Pressure? That’s why we are in this game. We want to play in big games. It should be a fantastic atmosphere. You have two very good teams. Our focus is only on winning. People may say we have a fall back option if we draw, we can win in NorthEast (February 25). But we are only thinking of winning.”
Moreover, Coyle cautioned his team not get carried away by the importance of the outcome. “The proof is in the pudding, which is to do what we’ve been doing and winning.”
“It is about playing the game and not the occasion. All said and done it’s 11 v 11 on the pitch and we have to continue doing the things that have brought us where we are. Hard work, dedication and desire, and then the quality kicks in. And all our lads, including the Indians have done that well.”
Coyle is well aware Mumbai City will be no pushovers. “Knowing MCFC and how meticulous Jorge Costa and his team are, they will be aware of the threat we pose. But we are not one-dimensional, we have many facets to our game. The reason that the boys up front can express themselves so well is the support they have at the back. We have very good individuals but our strength is as a group. Only our best performance will be good enough. This is what the business end brings you, some exciting games.”
With five wins from six and the other being the 0-0 draw against Bengaluru FC, Coyle’s CFC are in a rich vein of form, especially having beaten ATK FC 3-1 in the previous encounter. The turnaround from bottom of the table to being on the cusp of the semis has been incredible.
“In terms of fighting for our lives, we’ve been doing that for three months; when I came in we were bottom of the league. So if there’s been a team playing under pressure it’s been Chennaiyin every week. The last ten games we’ve had to win. We play to win, home or away. Not to draw,” said Coyle passionately.
The gaffer was joined by his skipper Lucian Goian, who spent three seasons at MCFC and led them to the semis as well.
Asked on his return to his former stomping ground, Goian said, “Feels a bit strange to come here as an opponent. I’ve had some great moments at Mumbai City for three years. But now I’m at Chennaiyin.”
“I am curious about the reception I will receive from the Mumbai fans but I am sure they still appreciate me for my time here. I am proud of my time here.”
“We will also have some of our fans cheering for us. I am sure it will be an entertaining game but at the end we have to be the ones who celebrate qualification into the semis.”