ISL 2023-24: Have to finish strongly to reach playoffs, says Chennaiyin head coach Coyle ahead of NorthEast clash

Chennai, April 8 (IANS) Chennaiyin FC will look to continue their positive form to reach the playoffs of the Indian Super League (ISL) 2023-24 when they take on NorthEast United FC in a crucial fixture at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here on Tuesday.

The Marina Machans are currently sitting in the seventh position on the points table with a total of 24 points. They have the same number of points as the sixth-placed East Bengal FC but stay behind on head-to-head record despite having a match in hand.

After two straight wins, head coach Owen Coyle is aiming for a victory in the next match as well to enhance their prospects of finishing within the top six and making their way into the playoffs.

“We have seen the last couple of games, and this is the time to be consistent in the business end of the league. This is a time to stand up and show our quality. It’s never, ever how you start in a league but it’s how you finish it and we have to make sure we finish strong. If we do finish strong then it will give us a great opportunity of trying to achieve those playoff spots which is our target of course,” said the head coach during the press conference ahead of the match.

Coyle heaped praise on their opponent NorthEast United FC who are coming into the match with a victory in their previous contest against Kerala Blasters. The Scotsman also feels his team can win any game at their best as they are in fine form and have scored five goals in the previous two games. “NorthEast United have got a very good side and have a good balance. They have a good mix of foreign and domestic players. The team has some emerging young talent because that area always has new talent coming in and they are terrific, so, we know what to expect, and we’re very respectful of them as we have been with all our opponents,” he was quoted as saying a release on Monday.

Coyle added, “But what I know is that my group of boys that are the best is the game that we can win and that’s what I’m concentrating on, making sure we are at our best. Individually if you win your games, you’re in the playoffs. We know that and Northeast know that as well. That’s why tomorrow is a huge game.”

Defender Aakash Sangwan has been a regular face for Chennaiyin in the ongoing season and also contributed heavily to Chennaiyin’s victory in the last two matches. He joined Coyle during the press conference and credited the head coach and the team for his transformation into a better player.

“If I compare myself to the last season then I think I am a more complete player than the previous season because I have been better defensively and it’s all because of the coach and the guys in the team. You know this year it feels more like playing for each other rather than last year, and that’s a big thing,” concluded Sangwan.

Chennaiyin FC and NorthEast United FC have contested 19 matches in the ISL, with both teams winning seven games each. Five matches have ended in a draw.



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