Durand Cup 2023: Owen Coyle's Chennaiyin FC gear up to kickstart exciting chapter

Guwahati: Chennaiyin FC will be aiming to begin their new campaign under former coach Owen Coyle with a victory as they gear up to lock horns against Hyderabad FC in their Durand Cup clash at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium on Thursday.

The ongoing 132nd edition of the Durand Cup which is Asia's oldest football competition includes a total of 24 teams from the Hero Indian Super League (ISL), I-League, and the Armed Forces which have been organized into six groups of four teams. The top teams from each group and the two best second-placed teams across all six groups will be progressing to the quarter-finals.

"The Durand Cup is a famous and renowned tournament which holds great prestige. Obviously, it comes quickly in the pre-season, but it provides an opportunity to get to know the players, find our rhythm, and give our very best. It is a great competition that allows us to play competitively and give our all, as we always do. We're truly excited about the upcoming competition," said the coach on the significance of the tournament.

Chennaiyin FC have been drawn alongside ISL outfit Hyderabad FC, I-League side Delhi FC and Nepal-based Tribhuwan Army.

Coyle thinks that the group will test his team and also help the players get the minutes they need, giving him an idea to look and see what the team has done and where they need to improve.

“I don't play to draw games, I play to win games. That is how my teams play and that is how we will play this season, starting in this cup competition. Hyderabad will be tough opponents as they have already played the game that they drew. So we know that if we can go and certainly look to win that game, it gives us a very good foothold in the group for trying to progress to reach the quarter-finals,” stated Coyle.

The 24-man squad of Chennaiyin FC will be spearheaded by notable foreign recruits Rafael Crivellaro, Connor Shields and Jordan Murray with a young core of fresh Indian signings such as Ayush Adhikari, Irfan Yadwad, Sweden Fernandes, Bijay Chhetri, and Sachu Siby. With a proven track record of harnessing the potential of his younger talent, Owen Coyle will be working with a perfect blend of young and experienced players, allowing the squad to flourish as a whole.

Speaking on the squad at his disposal and what areas they need to focus on, Coyle commented, “We are a new squad, and of course, there will be different elements as we look to build and progress. We are not going to click our fingers and think everything falls into place. It is going to take hard work, time to build things, and a lot of partnerships and relationships within the team to come together. All we want to give a good account of ourselves as we want to be representative of our amazing fan base.”

Having previously propelled the Marina Machans to the final of the ISL in the 2019-20 season, Owen Coyle will be looking to utilize his wealth of experience and tactical acumen to shape a new era for the club.

“We want to put a smile on our fans' faces, that is really important to me. My teams have always done that and certainly, from my last time at Chennai, the fans were amazing. They have seen the football we played. how exciting of a team we are and that is what we're going to do. We want to build an exciting team again,” said Coyle.

Chennaiyin FC will look to build upon its quarter-final finish in the Durand Cup last season as Owen Coyle's revitalized squad is determined to showcase their mettle and win the competition.

Chennaiyin FC Squad for the Durand Cup 2023:

Goalkeepers: Samik Mitra, Debjit Majumder, and Prateek Kumar Singh

Defenders: Ankit Mukherjee, Ajith Kumar, Bikash Yumnam, Bijay Chhetri, Aakash Sangwan, and Sachu Siby

Midfielders: Y. Jiteshwor Singh, Sajal Bag, Mohammed Rafique, Ayush Adhikari, Rafael Crivellaro, and Farukh Choudhary

Forwards: Alexander Romario, Vincy Barretto, Khumanthem Ninthoinganba, Sweden Fernandes, Rahim Ali, Irfan Yadwad, Jordan Murray and Connor Jon Shields