Reliving Jamshedpur’s rollercoaster debut

New kids on the block Jamshedpur FC endured a turbulent ride in their maiden season in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL). Despite the presence of the Tata Football Academy, Jamshedpur were the first official club to be formed in Jharkhand and fans gathered in large numbers at the iconic JRD Tata Complex to watch their team in action. Steve Coppell’s side finished the season in fifth place in the league, narrowly missing out on a play-off spot. We take a look at how the team from Jharkhand fared during the 2017-18 season.

Keeping it clean

The one attribute that will be remembered from Jamshedpur was their ability to hold a clean sheet and defend in numbers — a typical hallmark of any Steve Coppell side. Led by Andre Bikey and Tiri at the back and Subrata Paul between the sticks, they conceded a total of 18 goals and registered seven clean sheets through the season, a feat bettered only by Bengaluru FC. However, it was their attack which cost them dear. With a total of only 16 goals, Jamshedpur did not possess the necessary firepower to trouble opposition defences.

The season started off on a dull note with three consecutive goalless draws on the trot. Their first victory came against the Delhi Dynamos in December. Despite scoring only two goals in their first seven games, Jamshedpur managed to stay in the top four for the majority of the first half of the season and this was largely down to their robust defence. However Coppell knew that he needed attacking reinforcements to help bolster his side’s chances of making the play-offs. The arrival of Wellington Priori in January was a major turning point in their season. The Brazilian midfielder brought in the necessary guile and creativity which the attack so dearly lacked, scoring three goals and one assist in the second half of the campaign.

The final stretch

As the season neared its business end, Jamshedpur were caught in an intense race with FC Goa for the final play-off spot. After crucial defeats to FC Pune and Bengaluru FC, Jamshedpur needed a victory against the Gaurs to qualify for the semi-finals. The two teams locked horns against each other for the final league encounter. However, Jamshedpur suffered a 3-0 defeat, all but ending their quest for the elusive play-off spot.

While the team would have felt hard done by for failing to make the semis, Coppell had plenty of positives to take away from an impressive debut season in the league. The Englishman would, however, have to address a few areas in his squad before the next season gets underway.

An established striker should be their primary target in the transfer window. While Kervens Belfort and Farukh Choudhary did start most of the games, they failed to make too much of an impact on the team’s attacking prowess. With defence being their strongest attribute, retention of players such as Tiri, Bikey and Anas Edathodika will also be a priority on Coppell’s wish list for next season. And finally, the addition of another creative player in midfield will take some pressure off Wellington to come up with the goods.

All said and done, with the experience that the team and the management earned in their debut season, one can only expect Jamshedpur FC to come out stronger when the Hero ISL season kick offs later this year.

For a comprehensive view of the Jamshedpur FC’s 2017-18 statistics, click here.

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