Antonio Iriondo: Every match is like a final for us

Jamshedpur FC’s next assignment in the Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2019-20 will be away to Chennaiyin FC at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Chennai on Thursday. After a concerning run of form, the Jharkhand-based club returned to winning ways in their last match, beating Kerala Blasters FC 3-2 in a thriller last week. The result also kept the club relevant in the top four race heading into the final few matches of the league phase.

At the pre-match press conference, Jamshedpur head coach Antonio Iriondo spoke about the impending race and opined, “It looks pretty clear that there are going to be three teams that are going to be fighting for the first position. And there is one more spot for the other teams to get into. So, we are fighting with all the injuries that we have. Piti, Sergio (Castel) and now Tiri. We have to be ready. Every match for us is like a final. We have to keep fighting.”

Sergio Castel returned from injury in the last match, playing a big part in Jamshedpur’s triumph over Kerala. The Spaniard, however, looked to be struggling towards the end of the fixture. Asked if the star striker would be available for the Chennaiyin tie, Iriondo revealed, “He (Castel) is feeling good. We gave him 25 minutes in the last match, and he was feeling good. His presence was very important for the team. So, he will probably play,” he commented.

Jamshedpur midfielder Piti has also been out with an injury for some time now. Providing an update on his primary playmaker, Iriondo noted, “Everybody is working very hard to try and get him (Piti) back as soon as we can. We are now in the crucial time of the season, with the most important matches coming up. But we are not sure if he is going to be ready for Chennaiyin. Hopefully, he will be ready for the coming matches.”

Speaking about Thursday’s opponents, the 66-year-old remarked, “Chennaiyin have great attacking players. They have changed the spirit and energy in the last few matches. They start really good and they are trying to fight for the top four. It is going to be a great match. We know that we are missing Tiri, which will be a big blow. But we will be playing with 11 men, not 10. Hopefully, we will do great and have the victory.”

“Every match is different. It’s true that we have only won one match away from home this season, but we have had few draws and some matches that maybe we should have won. Now, the team is better with Noe Acosta and Sergio Castel back. We are working hard. We are hoping that we can get more wins and things go better from now. So, we have to work hard for this,” maintained the Jamshedpur head coach when asked about his team’s disappointing away form so far this season.

Midfielder Noe Acosta, who was seated alongside Iriondo at the briefing, said, “Yes, they (Chennaiyin) have been at a very good level in the last two matches, but we also have been playing good and with our last victory, our energy is very high. So, hopefully it is going to be a great match. It is a final for both teams. So, hopefully we will get that win.”

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