“We have to be at our very best as SC East Bengal will be a tough opposition in our opener.” - Owen Coyle ahe

With the 2021-22 campaign of Jamshedpur FC just a few hours away, our Gaffer, Owen Coyle talks about the pre-season training of the squad, squad selection for the fixtures, expectations for the first game against SC East Bengal and having another season without the fans.

Here is the full excerpt of the Gaffer’s pre-match conference -

On the 6 week pre-season, team combinations and preparation for Hero ISL

I think we have worked very hard in the pre-season after a long lay-off between the two seasons. Keeping that in mind we have to make sure we don’t do too much too quickly as it can lead to injuries. We have had a couple of niggles and concerns during the pre-season like any other team. But we are looking forward to taking a group of players to face East Bengal that will do their very best after working so hard on the pitch for the past six-weeks, because that’s what counts. We have used these six-weeks very well to get ourselves in shape both physically and mentally, which is really really important particularly in a bio-bubble. The lads have been an absolute joy to work with.

On the squad depth and breaking Jamshedpur’s top-four jinx

We are the same as every team. We want to be challenging to finish in the top end of the table like any other team in the league. All teams aspire to be winners, and that’s why it’s such a competitive league. The improvement in the team last year was for everyone to see. We certainly improved enormously but not quite enough to be in the play-off positions. We came very close and had a couple of things gone our way, we could have actually even found ourselves up there. But we can’t affect what’s behind us, we can affect what’s to come ahead and we believe we have put together a group that can fight and get us to the top-end of the table to get us to the play-off spots. Obviously, we lost Farukh to a terrible injury. But that provides an opportunity for the likes of young Boris, young Komal, etc. to step in and take up the responsibility. These are young, exciting players that we have brought to the club. They have a coach that’s prepared to give young Indian players a chance and work with them and make them better.

On the team selection difficulty that comes with the four foreigners rule

I think that’s a real dilemma as I have six quality foreigners to choose from. They all have done really well in pre-season. But this is a good problem to have instead of dealing with other problems where they haven’t had a good pre-season or aren’t in good shape. But it also provides an opportunity to put in a young Indian player. So of course, while there are challenges in picking the four from the six, I know that each of them is highly committed and motivated to give their all. Most teams in the league will have fantastic individual players, but our strength is as a group.

Update on Farukh’s injury

Well, he had a serious injury and if he’d be back for this season I would be surprised. I don’t expect him to be available for this ISL season. But the important thing for Farukh is that he recovers as he has a fantastic career ahead of him. He’s a great kid, a clever and intelligent footballer. I wanted to add goals to his game, just like I did with Chhangte at Chennaiyin. He has a great appetite to learn and keep improving himself. He is going to have a glorious career and I wish him good luck and a speedy recovery.

Any other niggles or injury concerns in the squad currently?

Ya there are niggles in the squad. We had a couple of players who had niggles and missed out the last couple of pre-season friendlies. But they have been training now. Ideally, I’d like them to have some more training under their belt. But there are one or two who have had those niggles. But since they have been there for the majority of the pre-season, it will stand them in good stead. And the pre-season is designed not just for the first game but the whole season. That serves you well and gives you a platform for the long season.

On the first match vs East Bengal

East Bengal is a whole new team with the turnover of players they have had. They have recruited some good foreigners and also some good Indian players, three of them have represented us last season in Amarjit, Jacki and Joyner. East Bengal have signed top domestic players like Adil Khan and also a top goalkeeper. They also have a good manager and staff, and we have to make sure to be at our very best as East Bengal will be a tough challenge in the opening game.

On if the results vs East Bengal last season will be a motivator to win this season

The players want to win vs East Bengal and East Bengal wants to beat Jamshedpur. Both teams want to win 3 points. What happened last season won’t have any bearing on the games this season. It’s a new competition and new teams. The teams have changed personnel. So, you have to be ready for that challenge and be ready for the threats East Bengal have. We must make sure we get down to our performance. We have to play our part, pass and move that ball, play well offensively and be tight at the back. By striking the right balance in attack and defence we can achieve the desired result and show what Jamshedpur is capable of.

On the missing fans

The fans are the lifeblood of the game. My first game in India was in Jamshedpur and I saw a packed stadium which was vocal and colourful. So of course that will be missed. Football has great games and there will be great games in the ISL. But when the fans are there, it just takes it to another level. But we will do our best in the absence of our fans to give them performances in the league that they can be proud of. The sooner we get the fans back. And to all other teams’ ISL fans, we are all football lovers, support your own team and be passionate with it. But maybe when you are not supporting your own team, support Jamshedpur FC. We hope with our performances we can make us your second favourite team.




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