Antonio Iriondo: Playing youngsters has cost us but it’s for the future

Jamshedpur FC will be on the road to face off against NorthEast United FC at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Guwahati on Monday. After the loss to Mumbai City FC in their last Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2019-20 encounter, the Jamshedpur-based club saw their top four ambitions come to a disappointing conclusion and will now be looking to make the most out of their remaining fixtures.

At the pre-match press conference, Jamshedpur head coach Antonio Iriondo hinted at wholesome changes to his starting line-up for the upcoming tie and said, “It has been very difficult for us to have a regular starting XI. We have had to change almost every week, try different things because of injuries. We needed to bring players from reserve team as well, and put them in the field. For sure, we are going to see something different.”

Due to several injuries to key players during the season, Iriondo was forced to work extensively with young and inexperienced players. Addressing the same, Iriondo opined, “It has been great having them. All of them are very young players. It is their first experience in Hero ISL. So, it is normal that they made some mistakes. It has not been the best for the team in a competitive way. But the development of these players is going to be something great for the team in the future. I am sure that next season, they are going to be very important for the team.”

Despite being already out of the top four race, the Spaniard urged his players to treat every match with respect and target three points. “For us, every match is very important. Last match against Mumbai was my 1000th match as a professional head coach. I had a lot of questions from media in Spain about which game was the most important match I remember. The answer was the next match against NorthEast. The important thing for us, as football professionals, is not what you achieve. It is about the game you are playing next. So, the most important game is always the next game. We have to respect every match. We have to enjoy it,” he stated.

Forward Aniket Jadhav was seated alongside the Spaniard at the media briefing, and he said, “Yes, it is helping a lot (having fellow youngsters in the Jamshedpur squad). First of all, I am getting enough play time. The coach has believed a lot in me. I’ve played with Narender (Gahlot), Amarjit (Singh) and Jitendra (Singh) for more than three years. So, it is easier to play with them.”

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