The Men of Steel are unbeaten so far in four matches in the league this season.
Jamshedpur FC extended their unbeaten run to four games with a narrow 2-1 victory over ATK Mohun Bagan. They face defending champions Mumbai City FC in their next game. Owen Coyle’s men have a great record against the Islanders, with four wins in eight meetings. However, things are different this season, with new MCFC manager Des Buckingham, determined to defend the title. Jamshedpur went unbeaten against the reigning champions last campaign, with a win and draw.
Ahead of the latest clash, Owen Coyle addressed the media and shared his thoughts at the pre-match press conference. Here are the excerpts from the conversation:
Short recovery time
Coyle started by talking about the two difficult matches within the span of two days. “Yes, it’s a difficult challenge because obviously, the recovery time is minimal.
Hunger in the squad
Asked if the players were more hungry this season after the first four games, Coyle said he feels the players had a similar attitude last season also.
“Maybe in terms of people’s perception, but I don’t think there is a big change in hunger. The players have always been like this, you’ve seen last year the players did very well. We came very close to those playoffs places. So, the boys have always been hungry (to bring success) for the club, for self and indeed for the fans, which is very important.”
Coyle also praised the Indian core of his side for their performance against ATK Mohun Bagan. Seiminlen Doungel scored the opener, while Jitendra Singh and Pronay Halder controlled the midfield against the Mariners.
“The boys are working very hard. I always see the foreign players helping the boys and I always say, they’ve to do it together. In the last match, when Alex (Lima) scored, he celebrated with the whole team, which is a wonderful thing. We’ve got some very talented individuals this time and it’s very nice to see young lads (also) stepping up.”
Jamshedpur FC have got enough quality on the bench to make late impact in the game. They’ve already had goals from Jordan Murray and Lima just after coming off the bench. This is a pleasing thing for Owen Coyle, as he lacked much depth last year. When asked about the goals scored by substitutes and their contribution in the two wins, Coyle exclaimed, “I think that’s very important because last year we didn’t have that (depth), I was restricted.
“But, this time I’ve kept the players I wanted and added the ones I needed, Eli (Sabia), Greg (Stewart) and Jordan. So, we’re very blessed in terms of foreign players and we’ve got some real good options coming from the bench. The young Indian players have also stepped up and they’re fighting for the places, which is great. I think because we have the squad depth, it gives us more opportunities to change things in the second half of the game, if we pick up an injury or tactics to change, that’s always a nice solution to have.”
The coach informed that Mobashir Rahman has trained with the team and might get some minutes under his belt. He also revealed that Murray played through injury and is not fully fit to start.
On the much-awaited update about Doungel, Coyle looked worried and said, “Len twisted his ankle, so at the moment he is very much doubtful for the Mumbai game. However, we’ll see at the last moment because he is an important player for us.”
On Des Buckingham & Mumbai City
Defending champions Mumbai city have rejuvenated themselves with the appointment of former Melbourne City assistant Des Buckingham. Owen Coyle said he has the utmost respect for the opponents and their young manager.
“We played Mumbai City in a pre-season game, although it lasted for only 20 minutes (smiles). They’ve beautiful training facilities and a terrific young coach, he’s already done a lot in the game. We’ll be doing everything to win the game. Mumbai City is backed by the City Football Group and they spend big money on the squad, the transfer fee they paid to sign Apuia. They’re big spenders in the league. But we’ve shown on the football field that we can win games and we have to continue doing that. If we’re at our best, we can win tough games too.”
On dealing with pacy players like Cassinho, Bipin (Singh) and Vikram Pratap, Owen Coyle said that Jamshedpur is aware of the problems they can cause and will do the same they did to stop (Roy) Krishna and (Hugo) Boumos along with (Joni) Kauko. The Scot concluded by saying he’s positive and the players will back their own game rather than concentrating on who the opponents are.