ISL 2019-20: Jamshedpur FC awaiting a breakthrough season

The franchise, which joined the ISL in 2017, is yet to stage an entry into the playoffs, and would be hoping to see a reversal of fortunes, come the new season.

Indian youngster Aniket Jadhav (No. 9) will be responsible to offer width to Jamshedpur’s attack in the absence of the impressive Carlos Calvo.   -  AFP

The toughest job for head coach Antonio Iriondo would be to seal the gaping holes in a ‘new look’ Jamshedpur FC when the next Indian Super League begins. The franchise, which joined the league in 2017, is yet to stage an entry into the playoffs, and would be hoping to see a reversal of fortunes, come the new season.

The side, under former Atletico Madrid boss Cesar Ferrando, finished fifth last season and by handing over the reins to Iriondo, the management has kept the Spanish flavour intact.

The JFC think-tank has invested in Sergio Castel, whose performances with SS Reyes in Segunda Division B in 2018-19, earned him a call-up to Atletico Madrid B. However, the 24-year-old forward, notwithstanding his immense capabilities, will be heavily burdened with responsibilities in the absence of another goal-scoring forward.

Forward Michael Soosairaj’s move to ATK has prompted JFC to include Castel’s fellow-countryman Piti in the scheme of things. Carlos Calvo and Sergio Cidoncha earned praise for most of the wing play last season. However, this year, the responsibilities might fall on the shoulders of former Indian Arrows footballer Aniket Jadhav and Piti.

In the midfield, Spain’s Aitor Monroy would be expected to take charge, after Mario Arques’ departure to Kerala Blasters. The club, though, made news by signing seasoned campaigner C. K. Vineeth from Chennaiyin FC on a one-year deal. But the team still lacks depth in the central midfield.

To add to its worries, Amarjit Kiyam fractured his right arm during an India training session in September. With him out of action till some time in December, Brazil’s Memo might be the one who would be fielded alongside Vineeth and Monroy.

The franchise also doesn’t have a specialist right-back. That would, in all probability, see skipper Tiri take the slot.

Iriondo, who has spent his life playing and coaching in Spain, is new to Indian football. His strategy-making should be an aspect to look forward to.

It’s very important that the players enjoy playing football. If the players don’t enjoy their football it becomes very difficult for the crowd to enjoy and to be supportive during a game. This is one of the main pillars of the game and this is a model I’ve been following for 30 years.

— Antonio Iriondo, Head Coach