ISL: Jamshedpur to face Odisha in campaign opener

Jamshedpur, Oct 21 : Heading into their third Indian Super League (ISL) season, Jamshedpur FC will look to secure a spot in the playoffs after narrowly missing out in the last two years. The Men of Steel will get their season under way with a clash with Odisha FC at the JRD Tata Sports Complex here on Tuesday.

Jamshedpur have had two head coaches in the last two seasons and both of them employed their own style of play at the club. Now as Spaniard Antonio Iriondo takes over, supporters can expect an attacking philosophy.

“We will try to defend when they attack us. But our goal is we would love to have the ball more in 90 minutes than our opposition. For us, the most important thing is to make our fans happy with our style of play,” said Iriondo.

Jamshedpur also had departures to deal with as Spanish duo Mario Arques and Sergio Cidoncha joined Kerala Blasters FC. However, they have boosted their strike force with CK Vineeth, who is the third-highest Indian goalscorer in the ISL. They have also replaced the outgoing foreigners with Francisco ‘Piti’ Luna and Noe Acosta while managing to retain star players Memo and Tiri.

“To win the first game, it is obviously the most nervous match. The players are working hard and are ready to make decisions (on the field) and understand the way we want to play,” he said.

Josep Gombau’s franchise have rebranded themselves as Odisha FC from Delhi Dynamos and managed an eighth-placed finish but his team had a certain vigour and excitement packed into the football they played. Gombau will be looking to continue his project with the young squad at his disposal to deliver better results on the pitch.

Star winger Lallianzuala Chhangte has left for Chennaiyin FC but the presence of Daniel Lalhlimpuia, Jerry Mawhmingthanga and Nandhakumar Sekar in the forward line will help Odisha pose a threat on the break.

“Last season is over. Now we start a journey at a new club in a new city. A lot of players are the same and I think we have a good squad. All the signings are done to improve the squad and I think we have a complete team,” Gombau said.

Gombau’s team likes to keep the ball, and against Jamshedpur, they are up against a team that also loves to hog possession. It should make for an intriguing battle in midfield where the likes of Vinit Rai and the seasoned Marcos Tebar will play key roles for Odisha FC.

“We are excited, want to do a good job. The football is for us to enjoy. We are here with this mentality,” he said.

Interestingly, there is a Spanish flavour to this matchup. Not only is it the battle between two Spanish tacticians but there is also a marked Spanish influence in the foreign contingent of both teams.

/IANS

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