Chennaiyin FC head coach Owen Coyle will be looking to pick up where he left off with the team in 2020, as his new-look side begin their 2023-24 Indian Super League campaign against Odisha FC at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar on Saturday.
“I think, like every team in the country, everybody’s excited to start a new season. And obviously, we know it’s a tough game against Odisha, who have invested heavily and are a very good club. But, we’re looking forward to it. We aim to do our very best as always,” Coyle told the media during a pre-match press conference on Friday.
A rejuvenated Chennaiyin squad is home to exciting young talent such as goalkeeper Samik Mitra, midfielders Ayush Adhikari, Ninthoi Meetei,
Jiteshwor Singh and strikers Vincy Baretto and Irfan Yadwad.This youthful energy will be complimented by established Indian players such as Aakash Sangwan, Farukh Choudhary, Alexander Romario Jesuraj and Rahim Ali.
“Our model at Chennaiyin is different from those big spenders. We obviously invest where we can, but it’s more in young players. And I’ve been known to give young players a chance and develop young Indians and that’s what I’ll continue to do.“We’ve got a good mix, obviously with Connor [Shields] and other foreign boys that have come in. Not only are they good footballers but also good people, and that’s really important because our strength will be as a group. We have to continue to develop and grow,” Coyle further added.
Chennaiyin’s foreign line-up includes Brazilian fan-favourite Rafael Crivellaro and Cristian Battocchio in midfield, forwards Jordan Murray and
Connor Shields while Ryan Edwards and Lazar Cirkovic will shoulder the responsibility in defence.The 26-year-old striker Shields also expressed his excitement ahead of his maiden ISL campaign. “I’m looking forward to the competition as a whole. But obviously every game is a new challenge for me. Obviously it’s the first time being in the league; it’s going to be a new experience for myself,” he said.
Chennaiyin are coming into the ISL 2023-24 after a promising outing in the Durand Cup wherein they struck impressive nine goals in four matches before their campaign concluded in the quarter-finals.“I think as most teams did, we used the Durand Cup as a pre-season. We obviously never had anywhere near to the squad that we have now. We showed a lot of qualities within that and we’ve continued to develop and grow. We certainly believe that we can perform to
our best. It’s the game they’re capable of winning,” the head coach concluded.
Chennaiyin and Odisha have gone head to head 18 times in the ISL so far with Chennaiyin winning on three occasions while the latter have secured seven wins.
The match is set to kick-off at 5.30pm IST as the fans can watch the exciting live action on Viacom18 and streaming on JioCinema.
Matches: 18 CFC: 3 OFC: 7 Draw: 8