ISL 2020-21 preview: Jamshedpur, East Bengal in desperate need of win

Jamshedpur FC will take on SC East Bengal in match 85 of the 2020-21 Indian Super League (ISL) at the Fatorda Stadium in Margao, Goa, on Sunday.

A 10-man East Bengal side fought to ensure a goalless draw against Jamshedpur FC when the two sides met in the first phase of the tournament in December (File Photo).   -  ISL/SPORTZPICS

Fresh from regaining its winning form, Jamshedpur FC will be looking to get its play-off aspirations back on track when it takes on the debutant SC East Bengal in an ISL fixture at the Fatorda Stadium on Sunday.

Jamshedpur regained its winning touch by downing bottom-placed Odisha FC, and thus managed to end a five-game winless streak, which was threatening to end its chances of making it to the top-four.

Jamshedpur FC coach Owen Coyle, who guided Chennaiyin FC to the final last season, will have to ensure the right motivation and strategy to see that his team maintains the required momentum till the completion of the league. With five more games to go, Jamshedpur is currently seventh with 18 points from 15 matches.

“The lads have worked so hard. We will have to take each game at a time and try to be positive and win the game,” Coyle said before the East Bengal match. Some statistical aspects in his team’s recent outings may be giving confidence to Coyle.

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It has managed three straight clean sheets in the previous outings which is a fine recovery considering that it conceded eight goals in three prior matches. With his defence regaining some shape, Coyle now needs the team’s attack to find form. A 10-man East Bengal fought to ensure a goalless draw when the two sides met in the first phase in December.

“The bottom line is that East Bengal are a very dangerous team. They have signed a lot of players. By their own standards, they did not perform as well against Bengaluru FC (in the last match). So they will be looking to try and win the game and keep themselves in contention. We have to be very respectful of the qualities that they have but also try to impose our qualities,” Coyle claimed.

Currently placed in the 10th spot with 13 points from 15 matches, East Bengal’s qualification hopes are all but over and a loss on Sunday will virtually signal the end of journey for it this season. East Bengal is winless in five games and has not scored in three of its last four outings. East Bengal will also be missing head coach, Robbie Fowler, owing to suspension.

The Liverpool FC legend had been getting the team in shape gradually after it was thrust into the tournament quite unexpectedly this season. Fowler’s assistant and the former Everton and Manchester City player Tony Grant defended his team’s progress.

“I don't think it's been tough on the pitch. When you analyse everything, the team was only put in the ISL at the last minute. We had a two-week pre-season. I think the team has done tremendously,” Grant said.

“We are one point behind Kerala Blasters FC, who have had much more time to prepare for this year. All the staff and all the players deserve credit for the fight that they have shown and we will carry on showing that fight,” he added.

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