ISL: Jamshedpur FC aim to gain momentum, to lock horns with Chennaiyin FC
Every game in the ISL has a unique storyline of its own, and this one is no different.
JAMSHEDPUR: Jamshedpur FC will host Chennaiyin FC in their upcoming fixture in the Indian Super League (2023-24) at the JRD Tata Sports Complex on Thursday.
Every game in the ISL has a unique storyline of its own, and this one is no different. The Red Miners are all set to welcome the coach who took them to the highest peaks of Indian football, albeit not whilst playing in their own backyard.
Owen Coyle, now at the helm of the Marina Machans, steered Jamshedpur FC to win the ISL League Winners Shield in 2021-22.
In a true testament to the terrific calibre of the Scotsman, he had uplifted a lesser star-studded squad to finish atop the points table and displace the power-packed Mumbai City FC unit to reclaim the coveted Shield.
Perhaps a believer in signing off on a high, Coyle then left Jamshedpur FC for a year-long stint at Queens Park FC before returning to take on a new challenge with Chennaiyin FC - the club with whom his association with India first began in 2019. Jamshedpur FC are known to host some of the most warm, receptive fans, and Coyle can thus expect them to embrace him with open arms.
However, they are equally passionate about their football, and the pressure will be on Scott Cooper to get the crucial three points in their bag. Cooper has repeatedly insisted that points tables do not explain where teams stand in the season at this point in time. However, at the back of his mind, he must be aware that his team needs to perform a lot better than what they are doing right now. It is not as if they are falling short of putting in the requisite effort.
It is just that all boxes are not being ticked simultaneously. Several departments need to work in tandem for positive results to unfold on the field. Standing at the 10th spot in the points table with five losses in eight games, just one win and five points, Jamshedpur FC would know better than many that they have not met expectations so far.
On the other hand, Chennaiyin is in the eighth spot with two wins, two draws and four losses in eight games, giving them a total of eight points.
What's at stake?
Jamshedpur FC Having been unable to find the back of the net in any of their last two games, Jamshedpur FC know very clearly where their problem rests. They have scored four times in eight matches, and the final touch has been missing in their frontline as they failed to net despite attempting 20 shots in their last match against Odisha FC.
By the looks of it, Jamshedpur FC are not deprived of impressive attacking talent either. The likes of Alen Stevanovic, Rei Tachikawa, and Daniel Chima Chukwu, along with Indian talents such as Seiminlen Doungel have all shown flashes of their capabilities until now.
However, the broad theme of what has troubled the team concerns them as well, which is the inability to come together as a unit and sustain longer periods of pressure on the opposition. Those traits are reflected in numbers, with Jamshedpur FC taking only 2.5 shots on target per game in the season, which is the joint lowest amongst all teams, along with Punjab FC.
Only 20 out of their attempted 104 shots have been on target so far, which shows that they need greater precision in their offensive endeavours.
Can they do that against a Chennaiyin FC unit that has conceded the joint-most goals (16, same as Punjab FC) in this campaign? Cooper should be fancying the chances of that.
The Marina Machans have been winless in their last three games, but they can take a lot of heart from the stunning spirit that they showed in the 3-3 draw at the home of the Kerala Blasters FC last week.
Coyle and his men looked intent on silencing the crowd by netting thrice in the first half, including a brace by Jordan Murray. They should be willing to step in with a similar intensity in this match, in a bid to catch Jamshedpur FC off-guard and put them on the backfoot early on.
However, the Red Miners have been defensively disciplined more often than not, and hence it is unclear whether the direct attacking approach that Chennaiyin FC often employ could deliver the required results in this match.
They might have to discover newer ways of cutting open the Jamshedpur FC defence, and the entire Marina Machans frontline will have to put in a coordinated effort to ensure that their goal-scoring run is not halted in this encounter. At stake is a victory that could help them break into the top six, and an away win is worth its weight in gold when fixtures come in thick and fast in the ISL.
Alen Stevanovic (Jamshedpur FC) The Serbian international walked into the Jamshedpur FC setup with a wealth of experience behind him, having represented Torino FC and Inter Milan FC earlier.
Alongside Carlos Delgado, he is the only outfield player to have played for over 500 minutes without being dribbled past in the league this season. That defensive neatness must not translate into offensive sharpness from his end to help Jamshedpur FC address their concerns going forward.
With abundant playing experience, Alen Stevanovic must have encountered instances like these time and again. He is looked upon as a leader in the unit and hence it will be essential that he is at the top of his game, displaying the skillsets, trickeries, and goal-scoring efficiency that is associated with him so that the Red Miners can finally get a taste of win on their home turf.
Rafael Crivellaro (Chennaiyin FC) With two goals and four assists, the Brazilian playmaker has been the architect of everything that Chennaiyin FC has done right at the front. He is averaging a goal contribution in every 106.5 minutes and is a force to reckon with from set-piece situations.
There is a sense of calmness and composure that prevails in Crivellaro and his gameplay whenever he is near the opposition's box. It always seems like he has a moment or two extra than others to make the right decision on the ball, and he more often than not plays the right pass to the right player. Crivellaro is capable of carving open the tightly organised Jamshedpur FC backline with ease.
He just needs to ensure that he does not fade off from the proceedings and is always the one at the centre of all the action in and around the opposition's defence. The likes of Murray, Connor Shields, and Rahim Ali can pounce upon the deliveries that Crivellaro provides and the Brazilian is not unacquainted with taking meaningful shots at goal himself either.
Played - 12
Jamshedpur FC - 3
Chennaiyin FC - 5
Draws - 4
"There is always pressure as a football coach. But we are privileged to be in a situation like this. Any type of pressure in football is a privilege. If you feel pressure as a player, or as a coach, you only have to ask yourself, why? Because you are going to be in a stadium with thousands watching, and millions seeing you on the TV, so it is a privilege to be in that type of a situation. There is pressure, but it does not worry me," Jamshedpur FC head coach Scott Cooper shared his thoughts on what he and his team are undergoing at this particular moment of the season, as quoted by an ISL press release.
"I think you want to win every game. Our last two performances have been of a very high standard. We settled for three points against East Bengal at home. What we are doing is building something that's going to be sustainable in the long term. We are taking the right steps and now we will face a fantastic club with an amazing set of supporters. It will be a tough game, but we are looking forward to it and we know if we play at our best, we can win it," Chennaiyin FC head coach Owen Coyle said in the pre-match press conference.