Owen Coyle – We need to be at our very best because we want to give our fans something tangible to celebrate about

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Jamshedpur FC are top of the table with 40 points in 19 matches. They are three points ahead of their opponents on Monday, ATK Mohun Bagan, and need to avoid defeat by more than a one-goal margin to remain top of the table and win the League Winners’ Shield. Jamshedpur FC won 5-1 against Odisha FC in their last match. The Men of Steel have a convenient way to the Shield. A win or a draw will see the Owen Coyle-led side lift the trophy.

ATK Mohun Bagan boasts a 15-game unbeaten run and are showing no signs of backing down, come what may. The Mariners have been resolute this season, collecting 37 points from 19 games. The Green and Maroons found their way through with a narrow 1-0 win against Chennaiyin FC in their last match. The only catch is that the Mariners will have to beat the Men of Steel by a margin of two goals or more, to lift the League Winners’ Shield as the former is behind in the head-to-head record as they lost 2-1 to Jamshedpur FC earlier in the season.

With stakes being at the highest level possible, ATK Mohun Bagan and Jamshedpur FC will tussle and fight tooth and nail for the coveted trophy at the Fatorda Stadium in Goa on Monday. Ahead of Jamshedpur FC’s clash against ATK Mohun Bagan, coach Owen Coyle addressed the media during the pre-match press conference. Below are the excerpts from the media interaction. 

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On the excitement for the crucial upcoming game against ATK Mohun Bagan.

“Everybody in this football club is excited for this game because everyone has worked ever so hard to put themselves into the position we are in. But we also know that we’re about to play some wonderful opponents who have fantastic individual players and an outstanding team who have been on such a long unbeaten streak. It’s the best they’ve ever played in the league and full credit to them for that.

“So, we’re excited about the game and we know we have a wonderful team who has won 9 out of the last 10 games and we know we’re in good form. Of course, there are niggles and injuries in the squad but we always put a smile on our faces and get ready to go again. We have a chance of finishing in the #1 position and so does ATK Mohun Bagan, so we want to see it through and go on to give our best performance because if we do that, then we know we can win such tough games. 

On trying to ensure Jamshedpur sees through the most important match of the season.

“The past years will have no effect on what’s to come tomorrow. The bottom line is that there are going to be 2 very good teams going toe-to-toe on the pitch tomorrow. We know that if we’re at our very best then we can produce a positive result and we will approach the game with the intention of winning because that’s how we play. We’re at our best currently and we’re trying to win every game possible and nothing will compromise what we are aiming for. We will play on our front foot and try to win a tough game against very strong opponents. If we do win, then we will finish in the #1 spot in the country and we’ll lift the shield which is what everybody’s aim is.

“We’ve already taken Jamshedpur FC to a position they’ve never been before, which is the playoffs position but we’re not settling here just yet. We want to finish in the top spot in the league and then later when the playoffs begin, then we’ll aim to be at our very best to try and win the trophy as well. The only way to do that is by making sure we are focused, concentrated and we’re playing at our maximum potential. If we do that, we’ve shown that we can win any games and when we don’t, then we’ll end up with certain difficulties. So we have to make sure we are completely focused to try and win this game because we want to give our fans something tangible to celebrate and to make that happen, we need to be at our very best.”

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On the brilliant performances put up by the Indian players of Jamshedpur FC.

“I am very much delighted with all my players regardless of them being foreign players or domestic ones because it’s not about individual players but it’s a result of collective effort. Of course, in this season the number of foreigners was reduced to 4 which gave another Indian player an opportunity to be on the pitch, which has been great for us because all our players have been doing really well. I have said this before as well that the players don’t even need to be on the pitch to contribute to the team because they bring such quality to the club and these players are as important as the ones who are on the field. Every player is of the same value to us and we make sure we stick together to keep the team spirit and camaraderie up.

“In terms of the development of the Indian players on the field, it’s been great to see Young Boris, Komal, who was sensational in his performances, then Ritwik came in and showed his qualities. If I am honest, some players are disregarded by other clubs. Young Jitendra, Narendra, and Mobashir have come through to be at this club, but when you look at everybody in the team, they’ve all been brilliant. TP Rehenesh was released by Kerala Blasters FC and we brought him into the club, Dinliana did not get much game time in Chennaiyin FC, Ricky never made in a matchday squad in a year for ATK Mohun Bagan and even Komal, Boris and Pronay, Len Doungel did not get a game at FC Goa and Ishan Pandita majorly came off the bench and proved to be outstanding for them.

“So, if you look at our team, we brought in players who were not getting their deserving game time in their previous club but we recognized their qualities and they needed the right direction in terms of coaching along with the opportunity to display their game. It’s been great to see how much they have excelled, how they are enjoying what they’re doing in the club and how they’ve represented Jamshedpur FC so well. But I have to say that there is way more room for improvement and growth within them and there’s plenty more to come from these lads. For the upcoming game, we need to make sure everyone’s at their best even though we do have a few players who’ll miss out due to injuries but we’ll look to pick the best team possible and go on to win a tough game.”

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On the success of the team in the second half of the season despite major hurdles along the way.

“Within all those games that we’ve played, as much as we’ve won games, there are always moments and games that’ll be challenging. There have been games where we’ve been held back and we had to get back into those games by seeing our way through because when you play strong teams, there are always periods in the game where the other team is at an advantage and we have to try to manage those situations in the best way possible. Of course, it’s been good to see how well we’ve coped with the trials and tribulations we’ve been through in the second half of the season.

“There were many hurdles in our way but we’ve made peace with that and concentrated on the players that do have available and not complain about the players who aren’t available as we always have the medical team taking care of them who’ll help them get back into 100% fitness. But when players miss out on the games then it is quite unfortunate but we have to make sure we concentrate on the players that are available and try to attain the results that we desire, which we did. But we have one very crucial game yet to be played against a tough team including great individual players who have an unbelievable winning streak going on.

“They have a wonderful coach as well, Juan Ferrando is someone who I really have a lot of time for and we’ve had some good chats before the season commenced. So, we know they’re going to be dangerous opponents as they are a club with big budgets who can buy any players that they want on their side. But we do something different here as we bring in players who don’t get their desired game time and we help the players who have great potential to grow even further and lead them on the path to becoming very good footballers. I feel it’s going to be 2 teams with different scenarios but two very wonderful clubs in their own respective skills. We’ll be doing everything in our power to make sure we win the game for Jamshedpur FC.”

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On the brilliant performances that Daniel Chima has registered after coming to the club.

“Daniel Chima is an outstanding player and I already knew that when he was in SC East Bengal, so I brought him into the club. I knew the fantastic player that SC East Bengal had signed but he wasn’t fully utilized in his previous team but that never lowered my belief in his qualities. Sometimes you need the right players, sometimes you need the right game style and system, there are different aspects that need to come together and I knew that Daniel Chima in Jamshedpur FC would be the perfect fit for our striker needs which is exactly what we need in a player like Jordan Murray.

“He is everything I look for in a striker and so are Ishan Pandita and Greg Stewart. Chima is another one of these wonderful players who has amazing qualities and he has worked very hard ever since he has come in. He has scored goals and even created opportunities to score for other players on the team. But Daniel Chima doesn’t just have to score to contribute to the team but the amount of work ethic he brings, he is a wonderful team player who plays with a big smile on his face and we love having him in the club. Of course, he’s added even more quality to the squad and we’re delighted to have him. He’s really enjoying himself here in Jamshedpur FC and may that continue for a long time.” 

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