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ISL 2020-21: Owen Coyle – Not as easy as waving a magic wand to make things happen.

The manager has injury concerns which make things further complicated ahead of their tie against Odisha…

Jamshedpur FC did not only lose three points against Chennaiyin FC but also suffered heavily on the injury front as both central defenders in Peter Hatley and Narender Gahlot had to be replaced. Hence before facing Odisha FC on Sunday evening, Owen Coyle has much to ponder upon when selecting his best XI.

“David Grande was not available and wouldn’t be for this game. Hopefully, he will be back sooner rather than later. Joyner (Lourenco), we still expect to be absent as he has not been able to get back to training fully. Amarjit (Singh) might have the possibility of being in the squad however, the percentage is lower. We will assess how he does in training and take a final decision prior to the game. Peter Hartley’s availability will also be a very late decision. He has not trained after the match, but he has a big heart to play. Some of these players really want to play, but we have to be careful to not make any injury worse.

“Once again, we will be without a few players but that’s the nature of how it is this season due to a shortened pre-season. So, we have to make sure that the players available are ready to give their best for the upcoming match. At their best, the players know they can cause problems to any teams in the ISL and the players will play with the objective of gaining those three points,” stated the coach. 

It must be noted that both teams had started their campaign with a defeat which should make their resolve to win their first three points even stronger. Coyle also knows the importance of this fixture and is ready to rally his team even with depleted resources. 

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“Both, Stuart Baxter and I, know that every match is important. The first and second game are as important as the final games of the season. Each result makes a difference in the long run. And considering both teams have started on a losing note, the players from both teams will be hungry to prove themselves and get a win. Also, as I said earlier, one win can take you a few places up and compared to the previous season, this season will be a more evenly matched contest between all the teams. Everyone is capable of beating each other. Wish the fans were able to see it, but they can’t unfortunately.”

The former Chennaiyin coach feels that the penalty awarded against his side in the previous match was harsh and did not mince his words. He mentioned that key decisions such as awarding a penalty can change the course of a tie.

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“It’s a difficult job to do (on refreeing). And I understand the pressure on the referees with 22 players and two benches shouting at them continuously. But as I always said, it’s the big decisions that change matches. The small fouls in the center of the pitch, throw-ins, etc. can be more easily accepted by the coaches but when it comes to giving penalties, the offside calls, these need to be given right and have the least margin of error as these cost goals. The penalty given against us in the previous game was never a penalty.  But again, it was the first game and we all have teething problems and hopefully, these will iron out as the season progresses,” opined Coyle. 

It was evident from their last outing against Chennaiyin FC that Jamshedpur FC are yet to get in the groove and the manager has asked for more time. 

“The simple challenge is that it is a new team effectively. There have been wholesome changes compared to last season. But the more we work together, the more we will improve. We are really looking forward to it. The idea was to build something considering the club has never made the play-offs. Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as waving a magic wand to make things happen. This requires hard work to make fall things into place. Chennaiyin started with four points in four games and still made it to the final. So, it’s all about continuing hard work on the training pitch and with Jamshedpur, we can do the same. As I have mentioned earlier, it’s important to put the building blocks and infrastructure in place to ensure the club gets results.

“Very simply, we had a slow start and were punished for the first mistake of the game with a wonderful finish from Anirudh Thapa. We could have equalised straight away with the skipper (Hartley) having a great chance which was just centimetres wide. And then we found ourselves 2-0 down for a penalty which should not have been awarded, a very soft penalty given by the referee. We picked ourselves up from there despite the scoreline and started passing with more precision and scored a wonderful goal, built up well as (Nerijus) Valskis found the net. And as the game progressed, we had some more good chances falling our way and so did Chennaiyin.

“I was happy with the camaraderie and cohesion in the team, especially after being 2-0 down so early. But we did feel the disappointment of not coming out of the match with any points on the night. We had some wonderful chances to equalise, we kept the ball better and passed around more than our opponent. We also had some injuries prior to the game and added two more during the game – both center backs (Narender and Hartley) – leaving us with only one center-back available (Stephen Eze). But there were many positives and the team showed togetherness that will stand out and help us in the rest of the season,” explained the 54-year-old manager. 

His opposite number Stuart Baxter has won a lot of laurels in South Africa and Coyle heaped praise on the British manager, hailing him as one of the ‘great additions’ to the ISL. 

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“I think Stuart Baxter has a great standing in the game of football. He is someone I know well and he is a great addition in the ISL. Odisha are going to be difficult opponents. They have a nice blend of youth and experience along with some good foreign players. So, we have to make sure we are ready for the challenge at hand. We will, of course, look to start the game better, try and win the game to get those valuable three points. Early on in the season, just one win can take you four or five places up in the league and serve as a good morale booster. So, we can’t wait for the game to come about,” signed off the former Bolton Wanderers manager.

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