After a stunning last season with Chennaiyin F.C. Owen Coyle became one of the most sought-after coaches for the ISL clubs. Jamshedpur FC made the most of the transfer window and signed him to tighten their gameplay this season. Since then, the Gaffer made sure to build a strong team with strong meaningful signings including Valskis, Jackichand Singh, Stephen Eze, and Alex Lima to name a few.
With the season premiere now less than a month away, Owen is firing up the squad’s preseason training sessions. But, it has been a long road to get here.
In this exclusive interview, let’s hear what the Gaffer has to say about his journey since he signed for Jamshedpur FC.
On the CFC match and what lies ahead for Jamshedpur FC
It will be interesting to face my former team. I know both the clubs would strive hard to get their hands on the 3 points. We have a strong opponent to face in our opening match so I am really looking forward to it.
On how the quarantine time was spent and how it feels to be out again
I ended up watching a lot of sports, a few old ISL matches, and face-timing with my loved ones. As frustrating as the isolation period can be, it was also a time well spent and hopefully, it will bring benefits. Of course, these are new circumstances and everyone’s health is of utmost importance so, yes, quarantine could be frustrating, but, I understand that it is there for a reason; to protect ourselves and everybody around us. Now that the quarantine period is finally over, and I am out training with my team and getting to know them, everything finally feels great.
On the Jamshedpur FC squad this season
We have a great mix of players. Jackichand is certainly one of the best ones in the league. We also have youngsters like Ricky, Bhupender, and William who will bring some fresh perspective and energy on the field. Then, we have strong signings like Stephen and Peter who are tremendously experienced so I am excited to see them make their debut with us. Our domestic signings like Dinliana are a valuable addition to the squad and of course, strong players like Narender, Aitor, and David who continue to be the strength of Jamshedpur FC since last season are there to tighten up our gameplay.
I am also thrilled to see what Alex and Nick bring to the table as they are both extremely talented footballers. Then of course, what can I say about Valskis! He is an outstanding striker, a team player and a sublime finisher so overall we have a great set up.
However, as I always say, at the end of the day it isn’t about individual performance. It is about putting them together and making sure that will be our strength.
On the importance of preseason training
Ideally, I would have preferred more time because we look at a 6-week training program. But now, understandably, the circumstances are different and it is more challenging because of safety protocols and different quarantine periods. So, we will have to make do with 4 weeks of training. My first order of business is to test everyone’s fitness levels because it’s been a year since ISL got over. Since we were all under complete lockdown, we were all physically restricted to do anything. So, I am making sure my team attains the proper fitness levels first, and then I will start drafting a program for everyone in terms of moving and working with the ball. It's important to keep a balance like this where they work hard on themselves first and then for each other.
On the practice pitch - Sangolda Panchayat Football Ground
I want to thank the people of Sangolda Panchayat for welcoming us and giving us their training ground. They are so kind and hard working. They have been helping us build the ground, shape it up, and keep up the quality. Plus, it helps that it’s in a nice scenic part of Goa. The village of Sangolda Panchayat has done so much for us in such a quick time. Hopefully, we can bring back something equally wonderful and deserving, to them.
On the importance of the first match of the season
I think the first game of the season is always exciting because everyone wants to win that game for a number of reasons - the feel-good factor, a winning start and it sets the mood for the season.
Every individual does everything to make it happen and I have no doubt that the longer we train, the better and stronger we will become for our first game.
On the importance of preseason friendlies
We are looking to play some 4-5 preseason friendlies to get into proper shape for the season. The fact of the matter is as much as the training is going fantastic and getting us in shape, nothing can beat a match practice because it helps you understand how you are going to work on the pitch. So yes, preseason friendlies are crucial, and playing those will definitely help us get a good start.
On the role of Goan climate
There is no doubt that the climate will play an important part which is why players need to be in maximum condition, both mentally and physically. It's hot and humid when we train and the players are working hard to acclimatize to the heat. Of course, that being said, it's going to be the same for everybody so we have to make sure that we get ourselves in a situation where we feel really good, strong and are able to show some quality work on the field.
On the steps being taken by the team before the first game
They are working very hard. I have stressed the fact that to make the jump to the first team, it takes hard work, discipline, focus, and pure desire because your talent and ability can only take you so far. There are so many attributes and factors that contribute to becoming one of the finest in the ISL. So, they are working on it.
They certainly have the ability and a few of them have already caught my eye. So, this preseason is giving them an opportunity to show that they want to be a part of the core group. Personally, I am looking for that challenge within the team. They have to show me that they are ready and hungry to be the strength of the group.