The Men of Steel will look to clinch their maiden semi-final place when they take on NorthEast United on Friday.

Jamshedpur FC will look to secure their maiden semifinal spot with a win over NorthEast United FC when the two sides meet in the Hero Indian Super League at the PJN Stadium in Fatorda on Friday.

Jamshedpur are seated second in the points table having 31 points from 16 matches and would eye a top spot and the League Shield besides qualifying for the last four. For NorthEast United, a win over Bengaluru saw them snap a 10-game winless run. They will be a handful for Jamshedpur added that they have nothing to lose at 10th place with just 13 points from 18 matches. Ahead of the match, head coaches Khalid Jamil and Owen Coyle spoke to the media.

Here are excerpts:

NorthEast United head coach Khalid Jamil

NorthEast United FC defeated Bengaluru FC in the previous game. So, how are you preparing for the match?

Khalid Jamil: Talking about Jamshedpur FC, they are a very good team and we are ready for them. We have to play like the last game and hopefully, we can get positive result.

Deshorn Brown missed many matches. Do you think that the results would have been different if he had played all the matches?

Khalid Jamil: Talking about (Deshorn) Brown, it is a pleasure to have him with us. He is one of the best players in the ISL. I have said many times, we missed him. In the last match, in the presence of Brown, we won after a long time. If you have five-six players like him, we could have been the champions. I know him very well, he trains very hard, he is always involved, he never complains. Whenever I want him, he is always there. He talks to the players and guides them. It is a pleasure to have him in India.

How impressed are you with the performances of young Indian players?

Khalid Jamil: Talking about the young players, they are working hard and the improvement is definitely there. The more chances they will get, the more they will improve.

Jamshedpur FC head coach Owen Coyle

Team’s approach to game

Owen Coyle: We have to approach each game like we always do and focus on one game at a time. We’ve a lot left to do even though we’ve done really well until this point, but that accounts to nothing. What we have to do moving forward, starting from going against a very good opponent like NorthEast United, is to try to win the game and collect those valuable points which will be our aim on a game-to-game basis. So, we’re only thinking about NorthEast United at the moment and we have huge injury concerns, but we will look to put as fresh a team as we possibly can to try and win another tough game in the ISL.

Motivation of qualifying for playoffs

Owen Coyle: It’s always nice to hear when people say that we have attained the most wins, scored the most goals, picked up the most points. But, the truth is, it doesn’t count for anything until you get something tangible and that is the mission for Jamshedpur FC this season, as we have never been in the playoffs to fight out for the trophy. So, we want to try and take away enough points to do that. The only way to do that is by playing well and winning games, as every game is a tough one.

Updates on Jitendra and Boris Singh

Owen Coyle: Obviously, we’ll be decimated by the number of injuries in our NorthEast United game and I don’t think there’s any doubt about that. We already have Farukh Choudhary missing the whole season and then Komal Thatal, who has missed the majority of the season, who is such a young and exciting player for us. I would be very surprised if Boris and Jitendra Singh are available for Friday’s game. 

Boris might be back sooner than Jitendra, but it won’t be today or tomorrow, that’s for sure. So, those are huge blows to miss those players, with Jordan Murray also not up to speed yet. So, these five starters who are probably not available to us and that being said, this brings a wonderful opportunity for the other lads to step up in their place. 

Increased involvement of Indian players in recent games

Owen Coyle: I think it’s been a process and we worked hard everyday on a daily basis, as everybody on the training ground puts in their work. It’s not about clicking your fingers or sprinkling fairy dust, it’s about hard work, repetition and understanding your role and responsibilities in the team. I think the players are doing that well, which gives me a tremendous satisfaction and joy when I see the Indian players grow. 

When you see the young Indian players develop, then you take joy from that because they really have the capacity to improve and honestly, they possess good physical conditions. They always seem to bring work, desire and hunger. I helped them a little with their game awareness, management and football IQ, along with a change in technique here and there.

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