Two Indians got on the scoresheet as the Men of Steel edged the southerners.
Jamshedpur FC secured their third win of the Indian Super League (ISL) 2017-18 campaign when they beat Kerala Blasters FC 2-1 at the JRD Tata Sports Complex in Jamshedpur on Wednesday. Jerry Mawhmingthanga scored the fastest goal in the league’s history when he netted with just 23 seconds on the clock, while Ashim Biswas added another one, prior to substitute Mark Sifneos pulling back a late consolation for the visitors.
This also proved to be Jamshedpur’s first victory at home and addressing the media during the post-match press conference was their gaffer Steve Coppell. The Englishman praised the supporters for turning up on a chilly night before lauding his players for their efforts on the pitch. “It was a really good atmosphere with the supporters,” Coppell said. “It’s a cold night and they came out and watched us. So, we are thankful for that. And the players worked so hard. They were conscious of having not won at home. They really did put a big effort to try and lay that ghost.”
The 62-year-old refused to tag their winless form at home prior to this as a jinx, explaining the factors which resulted in such a form. “It’s (not being able to win at home) not a jinx,” he stated. “If you look at the games, they were really close. That’s the best the pitch has played tonight. That makes a difference. We obviously got our noses in front which helps an awful lot. But the main reason was the focus to try and win that game. It’s never a jinx. You lose games for reasons, you win games for reasons. We just had that level of focus tonight which made a difference to us.”
The former Manchester United player also highlighted the fact that Jamshedpur’s performance was especially commendable given that they had to deal with injuries. “We had issues today with injuries,” Coppell said. “We had to overcome them. We have lost some key players this season for quite some considerable number of games. So, to be able to compensate for that and be so competitive at home, I think has been a compliment.”
He further added that with a hectic schedule coming up, it was important for the team to utilize more and more of their players in the squad. “We have a couple of players who have not played a lot of football,” he admitted. “Ashim (Biswas) scored a great goal, but he has not played a lot, so he was feeling his legs. With (Yumnam) Raju it was exactly the same. This is the start of a very congested period for us; five games in fifteen days. So, we have got to spread the load a little bit more in the squad and we need to introduce more players to the team as these games progress.”
The result means that Kerala are rooted to the sixth spot in the league table and speaking at the post-match press conference was James himself. The Englishman, instead of repenting the loss, highlighted the positives from the game and lauded his players. “I think we finished the game stronger, granted they went into a 2 – 0 lead,” he stated. “I thought that even in defeat, we showed a magnificent effort. Never giving up, which is what I asked the players to do. Yes, the result wasn’t right, and we can’t be happy with the start. But you are not going to win every game. I am happy with the way we ended. We have got a tough game coming up in another few days. That’s the nature of the league; we have to get on with it.”
James also praised opponents Jamshedpur for their performance, adding that the league debutants were a much-improved lot since the start of the campaign. “I think Jamshedpur have shown in the last couple of matches that their game has changed from nil-nils to one-nils to goals being scored,” the 47-year-old inferred. “So, they were always going to be a threat. They have quality on their side. It was difficult for us. Conceding a goal in 22 seconds does not help the preparations for the match; something we’ll have to look into.”
Before concluding, the former Liverpool custodian also mentioned that the way his team finished the game, it would give them confidence for their next. “What I did see was an effort, a desire and a will to not lose and six minutes was not long enough to get us back in the match. But we’ll take confidence from the way we finished, going into the next game,” he ended.