ISL: Jamshedpur brings pedigree to the table

The balance that Jamshedpur FC has managed to strike in its team underlines the club’s knowledge and understanding of the format and requirements of the Indian Super League.

Anas Edathodika, known for his game sense and anticipation in deep defence, helped Atletico de Kolkata win the ISL last year. Can he repeat his performance this year, for Jamshedpur FC?   -  The Hindu

Jamshedpur FC, playing in its first Indian Super League, comes with a football pedigree that in many ways surpasses the merits of the rest of the teams in the League. When the Tata Group decided to launch its team, having assured itself that the ISL, and not the I-League, is the future of club football in the country, it brought forth the values and experience of managing the best nursery of Indian football — the Tata Football Academy.

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Having produced around 150 internationals from the 200-odd players graduating from the famed academy, Jamshedpur remains the cradle of football talent in the country since the late 1980s. This prompted the Tata Group to make Jamshedpur the home of its football team.

The Tata Group for long preferred to stay off the competitive circuit despite contributing wholesomely to the development of sports at the grass-roots level. The inclusion of Jamshedpur FC in Indian football is a development many feel would help change the image of the ISL.

The balance that Jamshedpur FC has managed to strike in its team underlines the club’s knowledge and understanding of the format and requirements of the League. The Jamshedpur FC management did not go overboard in quest of stellar foreign signings, which has been the norm in the past three seasons.

CELEBRITY SPEAK

Varun Aaron (India cricketer):

"Jamshedpur has always been a sporty town, and the Tatas have given a lot to sports. I grew up playing in their academies and using their facilities. Having its own sports team is another jewel in the crown. They have already done a lot. I haven’t followed ISL before, but now I will."

With the new ISL regulations doing away with the concept of marquee players, the thrust is now more on fitness and performance. This virtually rules out the need to employ expensive, superannuated stars from the big leagues who were hardly able to contribute substantially on the field.

Beginning its journey in competitive football, Jamshedpur FC put its faith in the tactical acumen of veteran Englishman Steve Coppell, who had guided Kerala Blasters to the final last season. The former England and Manchester United midfielder, who established his credentials as coach with several Premier League teams, is one of the few ‘foreign’ managers to have gained a proper understanding of Indian football’s ‘ecosystem’.

 

With the advantage of making the first calls in the initial rounds of the ‘domestic players’ draft,’ Jamshedpur FC picked up some of the best Indian names in every department. Among the foreigners, it opted for some of the best performers in the previous seasons.

The Indian roster starts with E. Anas, whose game sense and anticipation in deep defence helped ATK triumph in the previous edition. The midfield has names like the seasoned Mehtab Hossain, Souvik Chakraborty and Bikash Jairu, while the attack is a combination of youth and experience in Sumit Passi, Farukh Chowdhary and Ashim Biswas.

While selecting the foreign players, Coppell opted for men who brought success to their previous employers. This saw the arrival of South African winger Sameehg Doutie and defenders Andre Bikey (Cameroon) and Tiri (Spain).

What, perhaps, could be bothering Coppell is the absence of an in-from striker. Jamshedpur FC picked up former Kerala Blasters forward Kervens Belfort, who scored just three goals in 15 appearances last season. Coppell will be hoping that the nippy Haitian plays to his potential, while expecting the Nigerian international, Izu Azuka, also to prove his merit in the attack.

 

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