Jamshedpur FC hosts Kerala Blasters FC in Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2017-18 at the JRD Tata Sports Complex in Jamshedpur on Wednesday.
The Indian Super League 2017-18 debutant’s reputation of possessing the meanest defence in the league has taken a beating after leaking five goals in their previous three fixtures and picking up just a point in the process. Languishing in eighth spot and having experienced a negative goal difference for the first time this season, Jamshedpur will want to work on their defensive frailties and be more clinical in the final third as well. Their opponents Kerala Blasters FC, are enjoying a splendid run under the management of their former player David James as the two-time ISL finalists look to continue their unbeaten with the Englishman having picked up seven points from his three games in charge. The attack, which was a worry for the Blasters, now looks sharper than ever and they will want to pick up three points in what’s set to be another tough away fixture.
The Yellow Army’s slow start has suddenly turned into a steady march towards the top four of the Hero Indian Super League and so a resurgent Kerala Blasters FC’s match against Jamshedpur FC here on Wednesday is gaining too much importance. The Blasters, fresh from their fighting 1-0 away win over Mumbai, are also riding high on the form of Iain Hume who is back among the goals after struggling for minutes under former head coach Rene Muelensteen. The return of David James has also seen the Blasters revert to a more direct system and it will be interesting to see how Jamshedpur’s miserly defence handles the pressure at home.
It will also be a fiery game — with Jamshedpur’s grit formulated on the same base that their head coach Steve Coppell once gave Kerala Blasters in the past. That said, Coppell was clear to speak his mind that it would take a higher level of refereeing decisions to see that the game did not end controversially.
“I think the referees haven’t been up to the mark on the evidence of their displays so far. They have been found wanting and there have been a lot of games which have been decided on big decisions and later proved to be questionable. I am in favour of video review and every game is televised with 10 odd cameras and why don’t we use this technology — it is being used in England and generally it has been a positive,” he said. At the same time, he was sympathetic towards referees, saying they were under pressure and deserved the video evidence support.
As for the game itself, Coppell said that there has been significant impact since David James joined as coach: “The preparation we would make for this team three weeks ago is different from the preparation we are making for them for tomorrow’s game. It’s also a game we are desperate to win,” he said. Coppell’s words are backed by the mathematical equation — if Jamshedpur lose, the gap between them and the top four will be at least four points or more.
James, who hasn’t yet lost in his return to Kerala (one draw and two wins), sounded confident with his side’s form, but also realises that the games his side have won have kept him on the edge.
“The wins were vital. 1-0 is my favourite scoreline because it keeps you on the edge but the match against Mumbai was physically and mentally draining. But confidence is high and we look forward to the match. It’s difficult to predict the side, but there is a lot of energy in Jamshedpur and we expect an energetic match,” he said.
James also acknowledged that his side had too much quality to be languishing in the bottom half — whether this quality will come up trumps against Jamshedpur is an entirely different story.
POTENTIAL STARTING LINEUPS
Steve Coppell may use a 4-2-3-1 formation that would provide versatility in the middle and on the flanks.
Goalkeeper: Subrata Paul
Defenders: Souvik Chakrabarti, Anas Edathodika, Tiri, Shouvik Ghosh,
Midfielders: Mehtab Hossain, Memo, Trindade Goncalves, Jerry Mawhmingthanga, Kervens Belfort
Forward: Izu Azuka
Jamshedpur gaffer Steve Coppell on their opponents: “Well, they (Kerala Blasters FC) have won two back-to-back games and drawn one prior to that against Pune. And in the three games David James has had a significant impact. The nature of the team is different. So, the preparation we might have made three weeks ago is different from the preparation we need to make for this team.”
Kerala Blasters FC
David James will probably use a regular 4-4-2 formation that is bringing him much success.
Goalkeeper: Subhasish Roy
Defenders: Lalruatthara, Wes Brown, Nemanja Lakic-Pesic, Sandesh Jhingan
Midfielders: Courage Pekuson, Keziron Kizito, Milan Singh, Jackichand Singh
Forwards: CK Vineeth, Iain Hume
Kerala head coach David James on how the side was reinvigorated: “I think the team needed some confidence. They have very good players and they showed what they can do in the last two and a half games. There is no magic to it. We got organized, we got behind the team to get it ready. It’s not just myself. I’m just the coach, there are other coaches as well, assistants, doctors; everyone was involved and are thankfully one hundred percent committed to giving the players on the field the best chance of winning games of football.”
- Kerala are the team with the most draws (5) this season, followed by Jamshedpur (4)
- Both teams have a goal difference of -1
Kerala Blasters 0 – 0 Jamshedpur FC (24th November 2017 at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi)
FORM GUIDE (Last five matches)
Jamshedpur FC: L D L W L
Kerala Blasters FC: W W D L D