The new season of the ISL is all set to start from today, with a heavyweight clash set in the very first match as defending champions ATK travel to the intimidating Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi to face Kerala Blasters.
ATK though, have been dealt a blow as their side has been crippled by injuries to key players. The two-time champions will especially miss their marquee signing of the season, in the form of former Tottenham Hotspurs and Liverpool striker Robbie Keane, who is expected to be out for a lengthy part of the season.
Along with Keane, the Kolkata outfit will also miss new signing Carl Baker at the back, but they were handed an added blow with the recent injury to their star Indian attacker Jayesh Rane, who is out with a knee injury and is expected to be back by two weeks time.
Jayesh, at 25, is one of the most promising attacking talents in the country right now. The Mumbai-born winger started his journey under the tutelage of current East Bengal coach Khalid Jamil during his Mumbai FC days and has been catching the eye with his performances since then.
He went out on loan to Chennaiyin FC for two seasons during 2014 and 2015, where he won the ISL title with the Super Machans under former Italy defender Marco Materazzi, before making his move permanent next year.
As recent as last season, he won the I-League with Aizawl FC, where he was out on loan and played a crucial part in the team's campaign under Khalid Jamil. Jayesh made a switch to ATK in this season's ISL campaign and although he begins the league injured, he's hoping to make a recovery soon and get his name among the goals, and help his new side.
Sportskeeda caught up with him in an exclusive interview, where he spoke about his respect for Khalid Jamil, the prospect of facing old club Chennayin FC and playing under legends of the game in Marco Materazzi and now Teddy Sheringham. Here are a few excerpts.
Q) What are your expectations for the season and how soon are we going to see you back?
A) My expectations, well to score as much as I can for the team, maybe I won't finish as top scorer but I'll try and help the team as much as possible.
(On injury) I hope I can be back by two weeks, let's see.
Q) What are your thoughts on the prospect of going back to your old club Chennai and facing your old club Chennayin FC this season?
A) I'm excited at the prospect of going back to play in Chennai. I've good memories there. The fans have always loved me there and I still get supportive messages from them and the city is close to my heart, but now I'm with ATK and I hope to give my all for them. I won't celebrate if I score against them.
Q) You have previously played under Marco Materazzi and now you're playing under Teddy Sheringham, both legends of the game. Can you tell us about the difference in their coaching techniques and how it has affected you?
A) It's been a great experience playing under Materazzi and now under Teddy. As you know Materazzi was a great defender and he focused more on that aspect of the play, while Teddy being a striker stresses more on the attacking side.
But both the coaches are very supportive of their players and know how to handle them well. I played a bit more freely under Marco during my time at Chennayin. But it's been great working under Teddy now, I've just played a few proper minutes but I hope to recover and get back to it soon.
Q) ATK have been going through a bit of an injury worry of late with Robbie Keane, Carl Baker and now even you being out. How is the squad dealing with this?
A) The team has been trying and deal well with the injuries. The loss of Keane is a big blow to the side and we hope that he can come back soon, but we have a good squad and good players who can do well. Carl too had his injury before and injured himself again in the same area, I hope he will be back soon.
Q) What's your take on the draft system that the ISL has? Do you believe an Open Market would have been better?
A) As a professional player, you always give your best for your side. Yeah, it's true that if the system was an open market like how it is in football globally, it would have been better for the players, they would maybe earn more.
Their money would be more performance driven as in, better performers would command more money in the market and their demand will also be more and they would also get the opportunity to choose their own team.
Q) Lastly, you have had a special relationship with Khalid Jamil. You have been with him throughout, how much are you going to be missing him this time?
A) Yeah, I do miss him. I have played under him for a long time, and we have good memories, but I'm focused with ATK now. He has always been like a father figure to me in my career. He is now coaching in the I-League with East Bengal and has been doing quite well. He has won the Calcutta League and has won the recent matches against some of the ISL sides in the pre-season friendlies. I wish him all the best for the season.Published 17 Nov 2017, 20:03 IST