With proven and potent players, Jamshedpur FC gear up for debut season

A new-look Hero Indian Super League (ISL) will kick off its fourth season in less than a week and it will also see the introduction of two new clubs. While Bengaluru FC is already an established and successful outfit having played in the Hero I-League before, Jamshedpur FC is Indian football’s new kid on the block. The Tata Steel-owned club was formed as recently as June, and will hope to hit the ground running from the word go, having played it smart during the pre-season player draft.

While the set-up is new, most of Jamshedpur FC’s players are not. The franchise adopted the strategy of signing up players who have already been tested successfully on ISL waters. Eventually, the team structure, at least on paper, looked formidable.

Defence

Cameroonian centre-back Andre Bikey has successfully plied his trade across Spain, Portugal, and England, and brings along plenty of experience to the Jamshedpur defence. Joining him will be ATK’s title-winning defender from last season Jose Luis Espinosa Arroyo, a.k.a. Tiri. Having played his part to a tee for the champions last season, he will be looking to do much of the same with his new team. Jamshedpur also wasted no time in splurging the cash on one of India’s strongest and most reliable defenders. Anas Edathodika, the defensive lynchpin for the country and his former team Delhi Dynamos FC, became one of the two most expensive signings in the draft. Sharing the responsibility of the backline will be his former Lions teammate Souvik Chakrabarti. The right-back solidified the flanks last season, and his partnership with Anas would be a key factor. 25-year-old Robin Gurung has plied his trade for NorthEast United FC for each of the past three seasons of the ISL and has earned a reputation for being a no-nonsense type. He will add more depth to Jamshedpur’s backbone. Also in defence would be Chakrabarti’s former Mohun Bagan and Gurung’s former NorthEast teammate Shouvik Ghosh. Strong in aerial duels and also as hardy as they come, he is a valuable addition to the squad.

Midfield

The Jamshedpur midfield consists of a lot of depth brought in by some experienced and eye-catching playmakers. South African Sameehg Doutie needs no introduction after spending two successful seasons with ATK, where he made a reputation for being as prolific with his finishing as well as with providing. Trindade Goncalves was an integral part of the FC Goa midfield last year, and although the team put up an underwhelming performance, the 21-year-old Brazilian is one who can be very influential in the middle of the park. Alongside him will be another former Delhi Dynamos player, namely Emerson Gomes de Moura, better known as Memo. A crafty playmaker, Memo is probably the perfect player to tag alongside Doutie and Goncalves. The experienced Mehtab Hossain would be anchoring the middle. An East Bengal legend as well as a regular for Kerala Blasters over the past three seasons, Hossain’s ability to break up attacks and initiate quick counters would be a crucial aspect to his team’s gameplay.

Attack

The forward line for Jamshedpur boasts the presence of the powerful Kervens Belfort. The Haitian earned a reputation last season for bullying defenders and being a clinical finisher. Being pacey as well, he will be his club’s go-to man when it comes to scoring. Joining him in this endeavour would be Nigerian forward Izu Azuka. The 28-year-old has been a regular scorer for clubs across Turkey and Kazakhstan and will be looking to net aplenty in the ISL. Senegalese striker Talla N’Diaye brings along the experience of playing in France and Lebanon and the 31-year-old adds more edge to the strike force. Besides these three, Jamshedpur can also call upon three of the immensely talented and upcoming youths in the country right now. Jerry Mawihmingthanga, Farukh Choudhary and Sumeet Passi have all shown flashes of brilliance in the past, and will be looking to make an impact in their new outing.

The coach

Jamshedpur FC have hired none other than the popular Steve Coppell as the head coach for their debut season. The Englishman has a tactical mindset, having used that to guide Kerala Blasters FC from an uncomfortable situation in the league to the final in the 2016 season. He would look to make the best of the immense potential his team has to offer and make them gel to form one lethal unit.

Player to watch out for

Sameehg Doutie is a proven game changer and has played his part to perfection on innumerable occasions for ATK over the course of the last two ISL seasons. His crisp passing combined with his pace on the flanks makes him a valuable asset. Not shy on the scoring front either, the winger would be the one initiating most of Jamshedpur’s attacks.

Pre-season form

Jamshedpur FC had a successful tour of Thailand, where they won all their fixtures barring one. On returning to home soil, they kept on with their winning ways before being edged out by one of the Kolkata giants:

On paper, Jamshedpur FC have one of the most balanced and experienced squads. Having rostered in proven players in the ISL, the newbies have the potential to make the cut for the knock-outs provided they gel as a unit. With an experienced gaffer at the helm, Jamshedpur could be one of the surprise packages for the new season.

The squad:

Goalkeepers: Md. Rafique Ali Sardar, Sanjiban Ghosh, Subrata Paul

Defenders: Anas Edathodika, Andre Bikey, Bikash Jairu, Jose Luis Espinosa Arroyo, Robin Gurung, Sairuat Kima, Shouvik Ghosh, Souvik Chakrabarti, Yumnam Raju Mangang

Midfielders: Emerson Gomes Moura, Mehtab Hossain, Sameehg Doutie, Trindade Goncalves

Forwards: Ashim Biswas, Farukh Choudhary, Izu Azuka, Jerry Mawihmingthanga, Kervens Belfort, Siddharth Singh, Talla N’Diaye 

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