ISL Season 7: Battle-ready Jamshedpur have a point to prove

ISL Season 7: Battle-ready Jamshedpur have a point to prove
Jamshedpur FC have brought in manager Owen Coyle from Chennaiyin FC and winger Jackichand Singh from FC Goa.

After doing well in the transfer market ahead of the seventh edition of the Indian Super League (ISL), Jamshedpur FC believe that they can redeem themselves this season.

As in the previous three seasons, they will be playing under a new manager once again. Scottish head coach Owen Coyle, who guided Chennaiyin FC to the final last year after taking charge midway their campaign, has joined them along with Nerijus Valskis, last season's Golden Boot winner.

Last year, the Red Miners lost eight of the 18 games they played in the league and drew six matches, finishing eighth on the 10-team points table with 18 points. In the fourth and fifth seasons, they had agonisingly missed out on a spot in the playoffs.

With an intention to plug the obvious loopholes and build a strong and cohesive team, they have brought in a bunch of quality overseas players to go with the young Indian talents.

Jamshedpur will start their campaign on November 24 against Chennaiyin FC at the Tilak Maidan.

Fresh approach

The two overseas players retained by Jamshedpur from last season's squad are Spanish midfielder Aitor Monroy and striker David Grande.

Apart from Valskis, they have also brought in four other foreigners: English centre-back Peter Hartley, Nigerian centre-back Stephen Eze, Australian winger Nick Fitzgerald, and Brazilian midfielder Alex Lima.

The Tata Steel-owned club have also roped in some extremely talented Indian players like midfielder Jackichand Singh from FC Goa, goalkeepers T P Rehenesh from Kerala Blasters and Pawan Kumar from NorthEast United. 

Attack to have more teeth

Lithuanian Valskis and Spaniard David Grande are expected to strengthen a side that had many problems up front. 

The 33-year-old Valskis, who netted 15 goals in 20 games last season, started his professional career with Lithuanian side Zalgiris Vilnius before he went on to represent different clubs in Hungary, Belarus, Poland, Latvia, Israel and Thailand. 

Young Aniket Jadhav, a member of India's 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup squad, 19-year-old Bhupender Singh, who had a two-year stint with Spain's Tercera Division Club's U-19 team, Olimpic Xativa, and 25-year-old Mizo striker Sapam Kennedy, who has played for Aizawl FC and Mohun Bagan in the I-league, ensure that their Indian striking force too is impressive.

If Coyle goes with the 4-2-3-1 formation, Valskis will be deployed as the lone striker. 

Value-for-money signings

Spaniard Aitor Monroy and Brazilian Alex Lima will be entrusted with the task of controlling the midfield and dictating the flow of play. A former Atletico Madrid 'B' team player, the 33-year-old Monroy had a great debut season with Jamshedpur last year,  scoring and assisting a goal each. The 31-year-old Sao Paulo-born Lima is known for his versatility as he possesses the ability to play in multiple positions in midfield.

The 28-year-old Fitzgerald will also be a vital cog in their midfield.  A proven performer in the A-League with over 12 years of experience at the top level, he primarily plays as winger.

Jackichand, a regular in the Indian team, is expected to keep his relentless forays through the right wing. 

Jamshedpur have also picked up some exciting local talents in the form of India's FIFA U-17 World Cup captain Amarjit Singh Kiyam, international Isaac Vanmalsawma, and the 22-year-old Mohammad Mobashir Rahman, a product of the Chandigarh Football Academy, to strengthen their midfield. 

Rebuilt defence

Obviously, revamping a defence weakened by the loss of the indefatigable Spaniard Jose Luis Espinosa Arroyo aka Tiri would not have been an easy task for the team management. In the absence of Tiri, one of most influential players for Jamshedpur last season, former Sunderland player Peter Hartley will be marshalling their backline. He is expected to form a solid partnership with Nigerian centre-back Stephen Eze, who played a key role for Super Eagles when they finished runners-up in the African Nations Championship in 2018.

They have also offered a new contract to two young Indian defenders - the 19-year-old Narender Gahlot and 18-year-old Sandip Mandi - to ensure some sense of continuity in the squad. 

Goalkeeper Rehenesh, who joined Jamshedpur after a forgetful stint with Kerala Blasters last year, will be itching to restate his credentials. 

The gaffer

Owen Coyle was the chief architect of Chennaiyin FC's remarkable turnaround last season. When he took charge, they were languishing at the bottom of the table with just four points from the six matches. The team scripted a miraculous comeback in the second half of the season and made it to the final. The Jamshedpur management will be banking on his tactical acumen to help the side secure the elusive playoff berth and go beyond. 

Full squad

Goalkeepers: TP Rehenesh, Pawan Kumar, Niraj Kumar, Raj Mahato, and Vishal Yadav.

Defenders: Peter Hartley, Stephen Eze, Narender Gehlot, Joyner Lourenco, Laldinliana Renthlei, Karan Amin, Manash Protim Gogoi, Sandip Mandi, Ricky Lallawmawma, and Subhash Barua.

Midfielders: Aitor Monroy, Alex Lima, Jackichand Singh, Nicholas Fitzgerald, Issac Vanmalsawma, Amarjit Singh, Mobashir Rahman, Jitendra Singh, Manisana Singh, Harsha Parui, Billu Teli, Gorachand Mardi, Gaurab, and Bhupender Singh.

Forwards: Nerijus Valskis, David Grande, Aniket Jadhav, Sapam Kennedy Singh, and William Lalnunfela.

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