The TATA owned club won their first ever match in the ISL against the Delhi outfit.
Jamshedpur is arguably the best defensive team in the league with five clean sheets to their name. However, they have failed to secure a single shutout in the last four games, but head coach Steve Coppell does not consider that to be worrying. In his pre-match press conference, he shared with the media, “I like to think we don’t sacrifice one form of playing for the other. In the course of a normal season, you will get phases where your defence is strong, and generally, when you start to score, you think that you can now score more freely,” he said.
Coppell continued: “There is no rhyme or reason to it – it is just a factor of the opposition you are playing and their strengths and weaknesses. We go out every game, determined to get a clean sheet – that is our number one priority. We were very disappointed not to get one in our last game. In the next game, we play against Delhi who are pleasing to the eye going forward. They have some quick players, so we have to cope with that, and at the same time, hurt them on the counter.”
The Lions may be languishing at the bottom of the points table, but the Englishman is in no mood to take them lightly. “We are massively serious. There is an old saying in football – ‘You are only as good as your last game,” he replied. “In their last game, they beat Bengaluru and are obviously a very capable side. They seem to have found a very attack-oriented base and are prepared to attack in numbers. Sometimes that has left them vulnerable at the back, but I am a big admirer of the way they play. I think it is good for the game and spectators, and they create a challenge for other teams.”
The 62-year-old started the likes of Yumnam Raju and Ashim Biswas against Kerala for the first time, and both justified his faith in them through assured showings. Speaking of them, he commented, “I was very happy (with their performances). I thought both players made full contributions to the team. I think Raju was excellent, particularly early on. Ashim scored a terrific goal – I think everybody in India appreciated what a terrific goal-scorer he is. I know I can depend on him, and whenever he has come on as a substitute he has done great to get us points. It is nice to have him in the squad. We still have a few injuries – Trindade (Goncalves), (Kervens) Belfort and (Sameehg) Doutie – that is three big losses in our squad. I hope they get back to fitness in the next week, although two of those three names will be included at some stage tomorrow.”
Coppell also had high praise for their young prodigy Jerry Mawihmingthanga. “Jerry is very solid and dependable. He is a young man, and understands playing in different positions, and what is required. He is a very determined player and has a good mentality. I would say that he has a very rosy future in Indian football, and I am sure he will be knocking on the Indian national team squad. If Steve Constantine asks, I will tell him what a great season he has had so far. However, there is another half a season to go, and he has to prove himself over the course of the full season, and not just half a season. That applies to a lot of players in the squad, and not just him,” he added.
Before leaving, the former Manchester United winger revealed how Jamshedpur will cope with a busy run of fixtures in the coming days. “We have four games in 11 days and we are also travelling for three days, so it really does not leave much time to recover and to rest. After that, we have one game in some 16 days. I know it is part of the ISL and I appreciate that, but for us particularly, it is especially challenging. We have to cope with it, and I would imagine that we would try and spread the load a little bit between the squad. And players who might not have featured prominently so far, might get big opportunities over the next 11 days. Right from the start, we knew that January was going to be a critical month.” he concluded.
From the visitors’ end, head coach Miguel Angel Portugal was present at the press conference and began by highlighting how Delhi’s 2-0 win against Bengaluru FC in their last fixture has affected his team. “Getting a win is the best thing for confidence,” he started. “Everyone is in a good mood and I think we have had the best training session. The team has confidence now, and I wait for tomorrow, where hopefully we will play a good match, and if possible, win against Jamshedpur.”
The Spaniard also shared how he perceives Jamshedpur as an opponent. “I liked the way they played in their last match against Kerala. They are a good team in defence, and also have a good striker in (Izu) Azuka, who is strong in attack. Also, they have two fast wingers. So, I think they are a good team,” he stated.