Antonio Iriondo: Mumbai have a good blend of Indian and foreign players

Jamshedpur FC will be on the road to take on Mumbai City FC at the Mumbai Football Arena on Thursday. A loss for the Jharkhand-based club in the tie will see them crash out of the Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2019-20 top four race, while a draw will keep them in it, but barely by the skin of their teeth. Considering the circumstances, a win will be the only thing in Jamshedpur’s mind going into the fixture.

Ahead of the crunch tie, Jamshedpur head coach Antonio Iriondo illustrated the task at hand against a strong Mumbai side, currently placed fourth in the table. “Mumbai are a great team. They are in the position they are in the table for a reason. Mumbai have a good balance between Indian and foreign players. They have some dangerous foreigners playing in attack. They also have good Indian players. It’s going to be a great match and we will be going for the three points. But they are a good team,” he said.

“We will try and find the chinks in their armour. You can always find ways to worry the opposition but it’s not easy. We need the win and hopefully we can,” added the Spaniard.

 After a strong start to their season, Jamshedpur fell off the wagon of late, picking up just three points from their last six outings. Identifying injuries to key personnel in the team as the primary reason behind the loss in form, Iriondo noted, “We have been missing some very important players and that has contributed to our slump. If you see Goa, they are a top team, but they struggled to score against us when they were playing without one important player – Ferran Corominas. If you see us, we have been missing some quality players like Tiri, Piti, Sergio Castel. With due respect to the other players, if you take out quality players like these from the team for large chunks of the season, we will struggle. We are happy with the rest of the team. They are trying hard. Now, we have Castel back but he’s not fully fit.”

Looking at the brighter side of their conundrum, he said, “There are always positives and negatives to a situation. We try to be positive. Even though we have been missing important players, it has given the opportunity to young Indian players to get game time and improve. We are a team which plays a lot of young Indian players. That’s something to be proud of.”

“We need to use them in the upcoming matches as well. Experience is not about time, it’s about bravery and intelligence. Some players take a lot of time to gain experience but some can get it after playing regularly for a couple of months. Hopefully we will have an experienced team on the pitch on Thursday and we can win,” he added.

Addressing his side’s lack of goals in recent matches, Iriondo opined, “Whenever we have the ball, we create a lot of chances, but we haven’t been scoring enough from them. We aren’t working on keeping the ball. What we are trying to do is create chances. After that, we have to trust that if we are creating a lot of chances, we can score from these as well. That’s what we are working on.”

Defender Karan Amin, who accompanied Iriondo to the briefing, meanwhile, said, “I have grown up in the city of Mumbai, played all my football here as a youth. It’s always special coming here and playing. Hope we can win.”

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