Jamshedpur FC made their debut in the previous edition of the Indian Super League as their owners -- Tata Steel -- won the bidding rights for one of the two expansion spots (the other one being won by Bengaluru FC). The Men of Steel were really impressive and were even expected of making it to the play-offs but ended up finishing at the 5th spot with 26 points, behind Pune City FC which had 30 points.
Stephen James Coppell or simply Steve Coppell was the coach for Jamshedpur last season but will be seen plying his trade with the Red and Whites, ATK, this time around.
The Men of Steel conceded just 18 goals last season -- the 2nd lowest by any team. However, they were also the joint 2nd lowest goalscorers as they managed to score only 16.
A lot has changed since then and Jamshedpur FC will be hopeful of more high-octane matches in the upcoming ISL season. There have been multiple changes which have been made to the backroom staff as well as the squad. With these changes, the management aims to keep the team as cohesive and resilient in the defense as they were last season but change things for the better offensively.
U-17 World Cup Indian stalwarts Amarjit Singh Kiyam (captain of the U-17 team) & Aniket Jadhav were signed by the Men of Steel but they won't be seen donning Jamshedpur FC colours this season as they were loaned to the AIFF to play for Indian Arrows in a bid to groom them further.
Midfielder Bikash Jairu; centre-back Pratik Chaudhuri; goalkeeper Subhasish Roy Chowdhury; defenders Raju Gaikwad, Dhanachandra Singh, and Sanjay Balmuchu; Spanish trio of Carlos Calvo, Pablo Morgado, and Sergio Cidoncha -- are the promising new additions to the Tata Steel-owned club for the upcoming season. Whether they will bring about a change in fortune for the club, only time will tell.
The Red Miners will be delighted with the new-look of their team, especially with the signing of Tim Cahill, who in my opinion is the biggest signing of this season. Jamshedpur FC will begin their campaign this season against Mumbai City FC on 2nd October.
In this article, we take a look at five players who will play a pivotal role in deciding the fate of the Jamshedpur FC this season.
#5 Subrata Paul (Goalkeeper)
The veteran custodian Subrata Paul, who had represented Jamshedpur FC last season as well, has bags of experience in his kitty. He is one of the most respected goalkeepers of all time and has even represented the Indian national team 66 times and will be seen between the sticks for the Men of Steel once more.
Subrata has plied his trade with NorthEast United and Mumbai City FC in previous editions of the ISL. He has even played for the two Kolkata giants -- Mohun Bagan and East Bengal -- in the past and boasts of an impressive record.
The West Bengal-born player was the first choice goalkeeper for Jamshedpur last season and is expected to be their guardian in goal this time as well, even though they do have an extremely able back up option in Subhasish Roy Chowdhury.
The 31-year-old was one the key reasons Jamshedpur conceded such little goals. In the 18 matches he played, Subrata conceded only 15 goals, and made 44 saves, averaging almost 2.5 saves per game. Subrata got the Golden Glove award last season for his exploits. It took the opposition 102.47 minutes to score a goal against Paul. He also maintained 7 clean sheets last season for the Men of Steel and would be expected to do the same this time as well.
It was a great decision by Jamshedpur to retain the reliable custodian and football fanatics will hope to see some gravity-defying saves from him this season as well.
#4 Michael Soosairaj (Midfielder)
Tamil Nadu-born Michael Soosairaj is one of the most promising emerging Indian footballers. The 23-year-old midfielder played for Chennai City in the I-league before being roped in by Jamshedpur. Groomed at the Arrows (now Indian Arrows), Soosairaj always showed signs of making it big in the Indian football circuit right from the beginning.
The youngster has a knack for scoring goals which is proved by the 5 goals he scored for Chennai City in the 5 matches he played. The best part about him, however, is that he is comfortable on the ball, and plays with great maturity. He assesses the situations well and has a keen eye to look out for teammates on the run, proving lethal for the opponents with his perfectly timed passes and through balls.
Soosairaj was also named as I league's best midfielder by the All India Football Federation in the previous edition with 3 crucial goals and 4 assists in 18 matches. He is also a versatile player and can be played as an attacking midfielder, central midfield, right midfield, and left midfield.
He is one players the Red Army should watch out for as he is even a prospect for emerging player of the season.
#3 Sergio Cidoncha Fernández (attacking midfielder)
Brazilian professional footballer, Matheus Gonçalves, arrived at Jamshedpur FC on loan last season. The Central midfielder was the top scorer for the Men of Steel, as he netted 4 goals in the 15 matches he played. Next on the list came Wellington Priori and Nigerian striker Izu Azuka with three goals each. These are statistics they would not be too proud of as their strikers just could not produce the goods and were not clinical in the final third.
While the two Brazilians Priori and Matheus are now plying their trade at clubs in their heartland, Izu moved to Ethiopian club Fasil Kanema.
Something needed to change big time and Jamshedpur have managed to do exactly that. Besides the blockbuster signing of Australian legend Tim Cahill, Jamshedpur FC have also roped in the Spanish player Sergio Cidoncha.
The attacking midfielder is a product of local Atlético Madrid's youth ranks. He has represented Atlético Madrid B, Atlético Madrid C, Real Zaragoza, Albacete Balompié, and SD Ponferradina in Spain. Although he never got to play in the first tier or La Liga, the 28-year-old is an interesting prospect.
This is the first time the Spanish player is venturing out of Spain. However, he would find himself at home with 4 other Spanish players -- Carlos Calvo, Pablo Morgado, Mario Arqués, and Tiri -- in the Jamshedpur squad. He has scored 21 goals and assisted 7 in the 176 matches he has played for various teams.
If used well by Jamshedpur's Spanish manager César Ferrando, Sergio can be a menace for any oppositions' defense.
#2 Tiri (Centre back)
José Luis Espinosa Arroyo or simply Tiri played for Spanish Third-tier club Marbella FC before moving back to India to play for Jamshedpur FC in 2017. The 27-year-old defender earlier used to ply his trade with Kolkata-based side ATK and was with them for two seasons -- 2015 and 2016. Cádiz B and Atlético Madrid B are the other Spanish Clubs he has played for.
Although he is primarily a left-back, there is a high probability that he may have to play as a centre-back this season to fill in the shoes of Cameroonian André Bikey, who was just phenomenal for the Men of Steel last season but is with ATK this time around.
Out of the 18 matches Tiri played, he came up with one goal, made 37 tackles, 30 interceptions, 119 clearances, and 15 blocks. Although he was cautioned thrice, he did not receive any red card. His passing accuracy (of 59.87%) is something he needs to work on. Working with a Spanish manager should make things easier for him. If the necessary improvements are made by him he will be en route to becoming one of the most complete defenders of the ISL.
#1 Tim Cahill (Attacking Midfielder)
Tim Cahill's signing was undoubtedly the biggest signing of ISL 2018/19. Tiny Tim, as he is popularly known, has represented some of the biggest English Clubs.
The 38-year-old Australian legend began his career at Sydney United before moving to England to play for Millwall FC. He scored a massive 52 goals in the 217 matches he played for The Lions. However, he is most well-known for his time at Premier League club Everton. He scored 56 goals and assisted 23 for the Blues in his tenure of 8 years (from 2004-2012) with the club.
The veteran midfielder, who can also play the role of a second striker, then went on to play for Major League Soccer club New York Red Bulls, Chinese Clubs Shanghai Shenhua and Hangzhou Greentown, before moving back to Australia to play for Melbourne City FC in the A-League in August 2016. He even enjoyed a brief stint at Millwall before moving to the Tata Steel-based side.
His 50 goals for the national Australian team in 107 matches speak volumes on the kind of impact Cahill has on the game.
Jamshedpur FC fans will be hoping they get to see the 'trademark' corner flag goal celebration from him very soon.