Heading into their third Indian Super League 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 underway with a clash against Odisha FC at the JRD Tata Sports Complex in Jamshedpur on Tuesday.
Odisha, on the other hand, would be hoping to get off to a strong start after starting fatally slow in the last two campaigns. Playing with a new name and new home city, Odisha would be hoping for a change in fortunes this season.
That will have to start against Jamshedpur, a team that they have never beaten in the four games the two teams have locked horns. The men from the steel city have won three with the other game ending in a draw.
Clash of similar playing styles?
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 Delhi Dynamos only managed an eighth-placed finish but his team had a certain vigour and excitement packed into the football they played. Delhi Dynamos have now moved to Bhubaneshwar and have rebranded themselves as Odisha FC. Gombau will be looking to continue his project with the young squad at his disposal to deliver better results on the pitch.
Delhi’s 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 new journey 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 is expected to have a similar style under Iriondo. 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.
Strong Spanish flavour
Interestingly, there is a Spanish flavour to this match-up. 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.
With the likes of Xisco Hernandez, Aridane Santana in the team, Odisha have five Spaniards in their team, just like Jamshedpur.
Jamshedpur’s Spanish players are relatively inexperienced in Indian football as compared to those of Odisha and the visitors would be hoping to make that count in their favour.
For Jamshedpur the game in front of their own fans would be crucial in order to get the fans warmed up for the rest of the campaign and build a positive vibe around the pace for the upcoming matches in Jamshedpur.
The match will kick-off at 7:30 PM IST on Tuesday.