With the 2021-22 campaign of Jamshedpur FC kicking-off in a few hours, the skipper of the Men of Steel, Peter Hartley, shares his experience of the pre-season period and his expectations from the squad in the opening game as well as the season.
Here are the excerpts from the pre-match interview:
Your approach for the new season with Jamshedpur FC
I am very excited about the season. We had a tough yet enjoyable pre-season. We have got to start the season on a good note and show that Jamshedpur FC mean business from the beginning as I mentioned before that our main target will be to reach the play-offs and with the quality that the current squad possess, we are more than capable of beating any team in the league. So, my main goal for the season is to win every game.
How beneficial was the 6 weeks pre-season training and the friendlies for the squad?
Our pre-season training went really well and we also had some tough competitors when we faced Bengaluru FC and Kerala Blasters FC. But the unity and togetherness in the squad is fantastic and the lads who were there in the last season, have certainly improved and stepped up their game. So we have fantastic team unity and we are really excited for our first game against SC East Bengal.
How important is the centre-back position for Jamshedpur FC considering the quality players available in the squad in that position this season?
It’s very important and I feel players in all the positions in the team have improved. Getting the chance to play alongside Eli Sabia this season is definitely an honour for me as he is a fantastic player. I have played against him in the previous season and I am very complimentary about his defending style. We also have Anas and Narender, who have played for the Indian national team and Narender also was a part of the U-23 squad recently, playing in the same position which means we have competition for the position which is always beneficial for the team. We have to keep pushing ourselves everyday and if someday I do not perform well, then someone else will replace me in that position and that is the key to success for any club.
How important is the mental health of the players in the bio-bubble and how will it affect their performance on the pitch?
We have to stay positive everyday because there are always bad days as well as good days, but I believe it is very important that we look after each other like a family because we might not know what one player might be going through which might not necessarily be because of his performance but something else which might lead to him not performing well, and we cannot let that happen. So mental health is very important for players in the bio-bubble which I have learnt in the previous season while staying in the bio-bubble. Thus I am trying to help out my teammates to come out of their shells, be themselves and enjoy their experience on the pitch in the Hero Indian Super League as best as everyone can in this situation.
What is the team’s approach to face SC East Bengal for the opening game of the season?
In the previous season, we did not win against SC East Bengal and also got beat by them in our second meeting, but this year, our squad is more than capable enough to defeat them. They have certainly got some good quality players in the striker and centre-half positions, but we have to aim to nullify the threat and bring our strengths to play in order to beat them. Hopefully, we get the lads as fired up as they were in the pre-season friendlies, because then I do not see defeating them as a problem.
How frustrating is it to not have the fans in the stadium for another season and what would you like to convey to them?
It is very frustrating for me as it is my second season with Jamshedpur FC and I still have not got the opportunity to play in our home stadium in Jamshedpur, but I just want to say that the support shown by the fans was absolutely fantastic.
We definitely felt their energy on the pitch and we hope to receive their full energy this season as well because I believe we will give them something to be proud of, and play the way that will make the fans happy to be supporting Jamshedpur FC.