Antonio Iriondo: ATK match the most important game of our season

Jamshedpur FC lock horns with ATK FC at the JRD Tata Sports Complex in Jamshedpur on Sunday. With 16 points from 13 matches, the Antonio Iriondo-coached club is still in the fight for the top four in the Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2019-20. However, in order to sustain their ambitions, the Jharkhand-based side must earn as many points as they can, starting with three points against an in-form ATK side.

At the pre-match press conference, Iriondo acknowledged the importance of the upcoming match and stated, “Yes, we think there’s still a chance (of finishing in the top four). This match is probably the most important match of the season. We are playing against a great team. It is going to be a big challenge for us. It’s probably our last chance to get in the fight for the top four.”

Defensively, Jamshedpur have been disappointing of late, conceding a total of eight goals in their last three matches. The Jamshedpur head coach admitted the problem and said, “The only thing that we can do is keep working. We have to try and find the best defence that we can put in the field. We are trying different options. It’s the only thing that we can do now.”

“What we have to do is to try and focus on our game. It’s not like because we try to play an offensive game, we don’t take care of the defence. That is not true. We are focused on the defence as well. There are many different ways to defend. One of those is to have the ball for as much time as we can. But when you lose the ball, we need to stay balanced and avoid counter attacks. We have been struggling and that is true. We have to keep working on that and improve on that. We have been missing some players. Sometimes it’s difficult. We have to keep working. We are trying,” added Iriondo.

The Spaniard also defended his goalkeeper Subrata Paul and felt his entire team hasn’t been performing to the required level. “It’s not a fault of individual players. It is a team sport. If the team is not performing good, it is an issue. Probably the absence of some important players, like Tiri and others, has had an effect mentally on the other players. So, it’s tough when you cannot have important players in your team. We have to work to try and change that. We have to get over the situation and not give up. It’s not a matter of Subrata or any other player. The whole team has to change this mentality and try and change to get over this situation,” he opined.

Finally, the 66-year-old Jamshedpur head coach expressed his thoughts on the role of foreign players in the development of the Indian talent. He said, “Foreign players are very important for the game here. They are very important because even though the coaches try to teach Indian players few things, a big part of their learning process if through copying.”

“When you have foreign players training and playing with the Indian players, the Indian players can develop faster if they can copy the foreign players. You can see the importance of foreign players because every time any team in this competition are missing one foreign player, they are struggling. Sometimes, we are missing four foreign players at the same time. So, I think it is a good idea to have foreign players here,” he added.

Meanwhile, defender Joyner Lourenco, who was also at the media briefing, said, “We are ready for ATK. The coach has some plans to try and stop them. We will try to win as well. There were some mistakes which we made in the last match. We have rectified those mistakes and let’s hope for a good match against ATK.”

Read the Match Preview here.

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