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ISL 2020-21: Why Owen Coyle’s Jamshedpur FC should keep their heads up even after being outplayed by Chennaiyin FC

Nerijus Valskis was definitely one of the positives for Jamshedpur FC in the first match. Courtesy: ISL
Nerijus Valskis was definitely one of the positives for Jamshedpur FC in the first match. Courtesy: ISL
Karthik Raj

The season opener didn’t go as planned for the Owen Coyle-managed Jamshedpur FC as they went down to Chennaiyin FC by a 2-1 margin in the fifth match of the 2020-21 Indian Super League season. Goals from Anirudh Thapa and Esmael Goncalves were enough to register a victory for Chennaiyin FC even as their former player and 2019-20 ISL Golden Boot winner Nerijus Valskis found the net in the first half.

The problem for Jamshedpur was that Chennaiyin FC started off with a lot of intensity. With their backline not being ready, it wasn’t a surprise to see that Anirudh Thapa opened the scoring after just 52 seconds on the clock. Soon, Esmael Goncalves better known as Isma, found the back of the net with a penalty which came Chennaiyin FC’s way after Isaac Vanmalsawma pushed Lallianzuala Chhangte in the box.

Positives despite being outplayed by Chennaiyin FC

Throughout the first 30-odd minutes when Peter Hartley partnered Stephen Eze at the back, Jamshedpur looked a bit lackadaisical in terms of their defense. However, after Hartley was subbed off due to an injury, Narender Gahlot came in to surprisingly make Jamshedpur’s backline a lot more compact. With the extent of Hartley’s injury unknown, Owen Coyle could play Narendar as Stephen Eze’s partner without hesitation.

The issue for Coyle will be to make the likes of Stephen Eze and Laldinliana Renthlei to be more disciplined. While one assumes that the reliable Ricky Lallawmawma could slot in at right-back, Coyle might have to shift Renthlei to the left flank.

There is also another option in the form of Karan Amin who is primarily a left-back. The youngster Sandip Mandi hasn’t looked ready in the few games he has played in the ISL so far and it will be unwise to continue with him. The young Tata Football Academy left-back was troubled quite a bit by Isma who played as a right winger.

Spanish mid-fielder Aitor Monroy had a decent outing in the middle of the park. Courtesy: ISL
Spanish mid-fielder Aitor Monroy had a decent outing in the middle of the park. Courtesy: ISL

In the mid-field, Aitor Monroy looked pretty good and continued from where he left off in the previous season. Monroy kept switching the play with a mixture of short passes and long balls while being strong with his defensive work. On the whole, Monroy was one of the most impressive players for the Red Miners on the night.

However, his mid-field partner Jitendra Singh looked off the boil and kept losing the ball on a number of occasions. The good thing for Coyle is that he does have Amarjit Singh who plays the same role as Jitendra. Amarjit has been widely appreciated for his defensive compactness and work-rate which will complement Aitor Monroy pretty well.

Another one of Coyle’s tasks would be to get Alex Lima more on the ball. The Brazilian attacking mid-fielder looked impressive in patches but he couldn’t exert himself on the game. It is a real possibility that Lima is still rusty after a short pre-season and there could be much more in him. If he does click, Coyle could have a nice trio in the form of Lima, Nerijus Valskis and Jackichand Singh. The latter had a decent game against Chennaiyin FC even though he wasn’t quite at his best.

However, the right winger did assist Nerijus Valskis for Jamshedpur’s solitary goal. It must be said that the Lithuanian striker came up with a world-class goal as the cross lacked pace and was slightly behind him too. Yet, Valskis managed to head it past Vishal Kaith to open his goal-scoring count for this season.

Jamshedpur should also look to make sure that there is enough supply from the left flank as Isaac couldn’t provide much of an attacking threat. The Scottish coach Coyle could perhaps think about starting Aniket Jadhav in the next game as he had a decent 2019-20 ISL season.

Coyle will hope to have the likes of Amarjit, David Grande and Joyner Lourenco fit again as he will then have a lot more options to play with. In the first game, Chennaiyin FC could have easily run away with a 3-1 or 4-1 margin but Jamshedpur also missed some opportunities on their own. The Red Miners had some decent delivery from set-pieces but the likes of Peter Hartley and Stephen Eze couldn’t capitalize.

So, there were definitely positives to take from the game against Chennaiyin FC. Also, having already seen in the last season, one can never rule out an Owen Coyle-managed side as he might just get the same set of players to be up to speed very soon.


Edited by Sudeshna Banerjee

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