Three points from the night will see the Men of Steel consolidate their place in the top four.
Jamshedpur FC will need to continue their recent winning run in Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2017-18 if they want to make the playoffs in their debut campaign. With four wins in their last five matches, Jamshedpur seem to be peaking at the right time and will be bracing themselves for a visit from NorthEast United FC at the JRD Tata Sports Complex on Saturday.
Their head coach Steve Coppell is hoping for a win against the Highlanders, but he doesn’t believe that a failure to secure maximum points would put an end to their playoff hopes. “Well, we obviously, hope so (for a win)! Looking at the end of the season, we still have two home games, one away game and one half a home game (in Bhubaneswar). And I think, for a lot of the teams now, each and every game is vital. The three points seem to take on – even though they are only three points – it does seem to take on a lot of significance and we are fully aware of that. Tomorrow, it would be great to win. If we don’t win, it’s not the end of our ambitions for this season for sure, but it would certainly be nice to win,” he told the media at the pre-match press conference.
Coppell didn’t want to get too far ahead of himself when asked if he thought his side could maintain their current form that has seen them win four of their last five games. “I don’t foresee anything beyond tomorrow. I think if you start looking that far ahead, then you’re just wasting your time. I don’t even think about it and my mind doesn’t work that way. My mind works in little blocks… I have the philosophy, as I have shared before, of winning the next game. Can we win the next game? Yes,” the Englishman said.
He continued: “How do we go about winning the next game? And that’s how you plan and try to get everyone fit and focused. So, that’s certainly my way of doing things. Win the next game. If we win, great! If we don’t win, let us go into the next game which is against Chennaiyin. Even there my philosophy remains exactly the same. It’s just game-by-game block analysis. That’s all I am interested in. I believe we will end up where we deserve to end up and that will take care of itself. So, I don’t worry about it as it won’t help.”
On the injury front, Coppell added: “We have niggles. Nearly every other team at this moment of time will have ongoing niggles, which might present to be a problem. I think we’ll be 100% fit. We do have a couple of players who just have a slight problem which might affect their playing, but I don’t think so. I think we’ll be okay.”
The 62-year-old also explained why Sameehg Doutie and Sumeet Passi haven’t had as many minutes on the pitch as expected despite being fit. “I don’t want to disturb a winning combination. They are both fit. But at this point in time, I am not sure, if it’s possible to field Passi. Doutie may feature tomorrow on the bench or in the line-up, let’s see.”
NorthEast United FC travel to the JRD Tata Sports Complex in Jamshedpur to take on Jamshedpur FC in Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2017-18 on Saturday. The Highlanders have had a forgettable campaign and will be looking to end the season on a high even though they’re virtually out of contention for the playoff spots.
Their head coach Avram Grant is expecting a tough contest against Jamshedpur and made his thoughts clear while speaking to reporters at the pre-match press conference. “Jamshedpur is a very good team. They have conceded the least goals in the league, I think. Their defence is very difficult to break down and they’re very good in attack as well. They’re playing good so it will be a tough game. You saw our team in the last games. We also want to be tough and it will surely be a good game.”
While commenting on how he wants his side to cope with Jamshedpur, the Israeli added: “From the first day I came here, I wanted to have a strategy that does not need to change in every game because it’s not good. We have a good strategy, good tactics and we just need to pass the ball. We want to apply that tomorrow. Of course, like any game, you want to use the opponent’s weakness and stop them in their tracks. But for us, our strategy remains the same, as we did in the last games. To play good football, entertaining football and we would try to be efficient also.”
With a playoff berth almost out of sight, Grant explained what the motivation was for his players to perform. “If you’re a football player or you’re an athlete, you always have to push yourself. It doesn’t matter what the situation is. That is what we want to do. In the last game, we fought very very well, even though we didn’t win. But we really improved our game and the team is playing good. Everybody admitted that we are playing very good and because of that, there’s a little frustration with what happened in the last game and the one before that. But you saw that the team showed good mentality and we want to continue with the same mentality. It may not be going our way when you look at the results, but in every game, we need to have a good mentality to win the game.”
As far as injuries were concerned, Grant revealed: “We have two injuries, who will not be ready for the game tomorrow, as of now. Also, the schedule is not so good, I think. I came from England and I know all about Christmas games, but I don’t think it’s good to play in every two days when you also need to be on the road 10-11 hours. It’s not good for any team. A part of the injuries is due to this reason, not only in our team but other teams as well.”
When asked about the impact made by new recruit John Mosquera, who has already scored once for the Highlanders after coming off the bench, the 63-year-old said: “John is a good player. We signed him but we knew he didn’t play much before. We needed to sign at the last moment so we took him. Anything can happen tomorrow, but he’s not ready for 90 minutes, yet.”