The Men of Steel have now won three games on the trot to consolidate their place in the playoffs.
Jamshedpur FC edged NorthEast United FC 1-0 in Indian Super League ISL at the JRD Tata Sports Complex in Jamshedpur on Saturday. Wellington Priori’s stunning bicycle kick won the hosts their third game on the trot, also ensuring that they climbed to the third place in the league standings. Addressing the media during the post-match press conference was their head coach Steve Coppell, and the Englishman was satisfied with the three points as well as the clean sheet.
“It was a good result,” Coppell stated. “We obviously did not play as we would have liked to have played. But I have so much respect for the NorthEast team. The way they are playing is hard for the other teams to play against. Today in the first half, tactically it was difficult for us to get a foothold on the game. So, we changed a little bit at halftime. But they have some very good players and they keep possession of the ball well.”
Regarding their opponents’ first half performance, he added, “In the first half we had to work very hard to survive. They did not have many clear-cut chances, but they made us work hard and tested our shape and our mentality. And we ended up winning the game first of all because of an individual piece of brilliance from Wellington (Priori) and secondly because we worked so hard in the first half to hang in the game. So, credit to everybody who was on the pitch tonight.”
Asked about his objective following the win, Coppell replied, “To win the next game. It’s been our mentality as we have talked about. That’s all we try and do. We have got a couple of days now to recover and then we’ll prepare straight away because obviously we have got a very important game away to Chennai next.”
He further said, “I think at this stage of the season, sometimes it’s easier to play away from home because the pressure is on the home team to try and attack all the time. So, before today’s match we were just conscious of that, making sure we did not over-commit and make mistakes. But, realistically, we just had to respond to what NorthEast did in the first half. We were not in control at all.”
Anas Edathodika missed out on the match, and Coppell shared why. “We had to change our plans because two days ago Anas was going to play,” he revealed. “But, he picked up a hamstring strain and we gave him a fitness test this morning but unfortunately, he was not fit enough to play. So, at the last minute, we had to change the team from our previous preparation. But, his hamstring problem is not a big problem. So, I hope he will be fit for our next game in Chennai.”
Jamshedpur have boosted their chances of making the playoffs, but when asked about the same, the 62-year-old remained impassive. “I don’t even think about it, because it’s so far away,” he remarked. “Even now it is so far away. It’s what we try to achieve. But, I don’t think in terms of hope. I don’t dream about that. I just try and win the next game. It’s Chennaiyin in the next game. That’s the only thing I am interested in now. We have eight days before that game. So that’s our focus. Everything will take care of itself.”
Speaking to the media during the post-match press conference was their head coach Avram Grant.
The Israeli was understandably bitter at the loss, pointing out that while his team was good in all aspects and still ended on the losing side, Jamshedpur hardly created any chances. “It was a strange game,” Grant remarked. “I cannot even say what went wrong because we played well in all the aspects of football. We defended well, and the opponents did not even have one chance apart from the goal. That was a fantastic goal. We created chances. Our goalkeeper was good today. So, from all aspects of football we were the better side. It was a very frustrating game because we played very well but lost the game.”
While he was appreciative of Jamshedpur’s defence, Grant also mentioned that they had just two chances in the entire game. “They (Jamshedpur) have a very good defence and are a very organized team,” stated the Israeli. “That is no secret. But we were the ones who created a lot of chances. Their goalkeeper made some good saves. And apart from the goal, they did not create any good chance till the last minute of the game when we were attacking, and they broke away. We ourselves broke away three or four times, but we could not score.”
The 63-year-old further stated at the end of the day, only goals count and that he was happy with the performance but disappointed with the result. “I am happy with the performance,” Grant said. “But there is also frustration. If the team is not playing well, then I cannot say anything. But, this team has progressed, they are playing good football. But, at the end of the day, we are not winning. It’s frustrating because things are going well, but football is about who puts the ball into the net. That is what counts.”