Both managers acknowledged that with the league almost at its halfway point every slip now could prove costly.
Jamshedpur FC host Mumbai City in Indian Super League (ISL) at the JRD Tata Sports Complex in Jamshedpur on Friday. The league debutants have the best defensive record in the league, having only conceded twice in their seven encounters so far. However, they have not exactly been prolific in scoring and come off the back of a 1 – 0 setback against Chennaiyin FC, a game in which they conceded and missed a penalty.
Speaking to the media during the pre-match press conference was the host’s head coach Steve Coppell, and he started off by assessing his team’s performance so far. “I’m desperate for the team to score goals,” he said. “That hasn’t happened so far even with the penalty but I’m confident that we will score goals and the sooner the better. It’s a big priority for us. You have to appreciate that defensively, which is an important part of the game, we are quite strong. We have to find the balance to be more potent going forward without losing the balance defensively.”
The Englishman was also critical about the pitch conditions, admitting that it affected his team’s game. “I think it (the pitch) contributes to the lack of goals in all the games we’ve played here so far,” he opined. “It’s very difficult to run with the ball, to dribble. You know in order to score goals you have to be able to run with the ball and shoot and the pitch has been difficult so far. I don’t want to make such a big thing about the pitch. I believe it will get better. But it’s also a factor in fitness calculations.”
He was also clear about what the team’s objective was regarding the league. “Everyone that we play is a good team. Pune, Bangalore, Chennai, Mumbai, Goa; they are the five best teams in the league,” the 62-year-old said. “We’ve got the five best teams in a row. We have to contribute, commit, try to attack as much as possible and be solid defensively. We aspire to be amongst the best teams in the league. We want to be in the playoffs. For a new team to be in the playoffs will be a great achievement and that will be something to be proud of.”
Speaking to the media during the pre-match post conference was their head coach, Alexandre Guimaraes.
He started off by highlighting the importance of their upcoming fixture. “Now, we’re reaching a phase of the tournament where we cannot lose points and we know that tomorrow, we have a very important game,” he stated. “I admire their coach very much. Hopefully, tomorrow can be a good game that the fans come here to enjoy.”
About Mumbai’s opponents, the Costa Rican seemed wary. “It’s going to be a very tough game,” he inferred. “They are very strong defensively and the whole team fights to recover the ball. So, we have to understand that we have to work hard in the game and try to get some gaps. I’m very glad that in the last game we managed to take profit of this kind of a situation which is important in these games.”
He further added, “They (Jamshedpur) are very well organized defensively. They try to push in the offence and that can make a difference. Unfortunately for them, their chances have not been converted. So, we have to be very aware because sometimes the numbers don’t show what you do on the pitch. This is an example of that.”
Before concluding, he also singled out midfielder Achille Emana and forward Balwant Singh, and praised them for their influential gameplay. “We brought him (Emana) knowing that with his characteristics he can perform the way he is performing,” the 58-year-old revealed. “He, as a player, wants the ball to distribute the game and wants to be active in the game. The other players are understanding his game and this is good for us.”
Of Balwant, he said, “We chose Balwant as the first choice on the draft knowing his ability, temperament and versatility. He wants to win every game. For us, it is not really a surprise what he’s been doing. During the pre-season, he showed us what he’s capable of. He can improve, and I hope that he can score more goals.”