Chennaiyin FC host NorthEast United in the 2019-20 Indian Super League (ISL) at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Chennai, on Thursday evening.
With the Pongal celebrations underway in Tamil Nadu from January 15-18, Chennaiyin coach Owen Coyle hopes to join in the festivities with a win that would also put them within a point from fifth-placed Mumbai City FC (16 points).
"Hopefully (there will be celebrations). Obviously, coming into a new country, the different culture has been fantastic to see. So the best celebration here will be to get three points and celebrate with everybody else," he said.
Having defeated Hyderabad FC 3-1 in their last outing, Coyle mentioned of the importance of consistency with more upcoming fixtures against sides like Jamshedpur FC and Kerala Blasters who are also vying for a spot in the play-offs.
"Three points can be invaluable because more often than not there are a lot of draws in this league and those three points can catapult you up the table. So the focus is on us, trying to win and maintain the form," he explained.
Talking of consistency, Chennaiyin FC have not won back-to-back games in the ISL since December 2017, which was during the fourth edition of the competition when the club lifted their second title under former coach John Gregory.
Asked for his opinion on the poor displays at the Marina Arena, Coyle replied, "I can only speak for the time I have been here. We feel that we have an obligation not only to win games but be pleasing on the eye. The game that we lost (3-4) at home against Goa, we gifted them a 3-0 lead but we were outstanding in the second half. For me, at the moment, Goa are one of the best teams in the league but for a huge period in the second half, we made them look pretty ordinary in the second half. We scored three wonderful goals. So we showed that we can entertain."
"You've got to understand that this club in the past seasons has set very high standards. (Chennaiyin are) two-time champions for a reason. You look at some other clubs perceived to be big clubs don't have the titles that Chennai has and we have them for a reason. And that's why we have to strive to get back to that level again," he added.
The Chennaiyin coach also gave his two cents on the nature of the ISL played as a closed league that has no relegation at least for the next couple of seasons.
"From a club's perspective, we understand that the ISL is a franchise league as it was when I worked in America - the MLS is a franchise league, and the reason for no relegation is because there has been a huge investment. That's why it (club's interest) is protected. That's the best way I can put it," the former Houston Dynamo manager explained.
"Whether it is a franchise with no relegation or with relegation, players should have personal pride. So it's not just relegation but it also suggests as well that those players are playing for new contracts because if they don't perform (well) there won't be new contracts. So it's just not relegation that drives you on to that."