In first game as Jamshedpur boss, Coyle looks ahead to Chennaiyin clash

Jamshedpur FC will be targeting their first-ever playoff appearance in Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2020-21 having missed out on the top four spots in their three seasons so far. With Owen Coyle as head coach, Jamshedpur will be led by someone who took Chennaiyin FC all the way to the Hero ISL final last season.

Coyle will face his former side in Jamshedpur’s first game of the season on November 24, and the 54-year-old is looking forward to the contest. “It will be interesting to face my former team. I know both the clubs would strive hard to get their hands on the 3 points. We have a strong opponent to face in our opening match, so I am really looking forward to it,” he said in an interview to fcjamshedpur.com.

Jamshedpur were busy in the transfer market and now boast a good blend of experienced players and talented youngsters. “We have a great mix of players. Jackichand [Singh] is certainly one of the best ones in the league. We also have youngsters like Ricky [Lallawmawma], Bhupender [Singh], and William [Lalnunfela] who will bring some fresh perspective and energy on the field.

“Then, we have strong signings like Stephen [Eze] and Peter [Hartley] who are tremendously experienced, so I am excited to see them make their debut with us. Our domestic signings like Dinliana [Laldinliana Renthlei] are a valuable addition to the squad and of course, strong players like Narender [Gahlot], Aitor [Monroy] and David [Grande], who continue to be the strength of Jamshedpur FC since last season, are there to tighten up our gameplay,” Coyle said.

“I am also thrilled to see what Alexandre [Lima] and Nick [John Fitzgerald] bring to the table as they are both extremely talented footballers. Then of course, what can I say about [Nerijus] Valskis! He is an outstanding striker, a team player and a sublime finisher so overall we have a great set-up.  However, as I always say, at the end of the day it isn’t about individual performance. It is about putting them together and making sure that will be our strength,” he added.

While discussing the importance of pre-season, Coyle said: “Ideally, I would have preferred more time because we look at a 6-week training program. But now, understandably, the circumstances are different and it is more challenging because of safety protocols and different quarantine periods. So, we will have to make do with 4 weeks of training. My first order of business is to test everyone’s fitness levels because it’s been a year since ISL got over.

“Since we were all under complete lockdown, we were all physically restricted to do anything. So, I am making sure my team attains the proper fitness levels first, and then I will start drafting a program for everyone in terms of moving and working with the ball. It's important to keep a balance like this where they work hard on themselves first and then for each other.”

When quizzed on the importance of pre-season friendlies, Coyle opined: We are looking to play some 4-5 pre-season friendlies to get into proper shape for the season. The fact of the matter is as much as the training is going fantastic and getting us in shape, nothing can beat a match practice because it helps you understand how you are going to work on the pitch. So yes, pre-season friendlies are crucial, and playing those will definitely help us get a good start.”

Coyle also touched on the need to acclimatise to weather conditions in Goa since the entire season will be staged in the football passionate state due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “There is no doubt that the climate will play an important part which is why players need to be in maximum condition, both mentally and physically. It's hot and humid when we train and the players are working hard to acclimatise to the heat.  Of course, that being said, it's going to be the same for everybody so we have to make sure that we get ourselves in a situation where we feel really good, strong and are able to show some quality work on the field,” he said.

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