Iriondo: Keeping possession is not the objective but a tool

After back-to-back away matches, Jamshedpur FC will be back home at the JRD Tata Sports Complex on Monday to face a NorthEast United FC side, which is unbeaten in the Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2019-20 so far. After ending FC Goa's unbeaten run in their last match, Antonio Iriondo's men will be looking to subject the Highlanders to the same fate when they meet.

Despite the 1-0 away victory over Goa, Jamshedpur were under pressure as the Gaurs enjoyed superior ball possession in the contest. With Iriondo having stated in the past that keeping the ball is very much in the DNA of his philosophy, the Spaniard, at the pre-match press conference, was asked the reason behind diverging from his regular style in the last outing. “It’s difficult to play against a team which has had the same squad for almost three seasons, have worked together for a long time. They have the same philosophy as us. It will take time for us to do the things we want our team to do. We struggled to keep possession of the ball against Goa but when you play against strong teams like Goa, you have to find their weakness and play smartly,” he responded.

“Having ball possession is not the objective but a tool. The objective is to score goals and win matches. Sometimes when you can’t keep the ball, you have to play in counter attacks. We had to adjust our way of playing through counter attacks and we were more dangerous. I am happy with the performance and the way we played against Goa,” he further explained.

Jamshedpur have scored seven goals so far this season but have had little joy with offensive set pieces. Admitting it was an area which needs work, the veteran coach opined, “We are lacking there (converting set pieces) and we are working on that. Hopefully we will keep scoring from open plays and come good with set pieces as well.”

So far this season, Jamshedpur have seemed like a more attacking side in the first-half, whilst taking a more defensive approach in the second period. Asked to explain the trend, Iriondo noted, “I don’t think there’s a problem in defending in the second-half. It’s sometimes about handling the result. That’s not only happening to us but the other teams too. Like, with us against Goa, when you are winning 1-0, players sometimes feel its better to sit back, defend and absorb the pressure. I would love it if we can play the same way irrespective of whether we are winning by five goals or one. But I think we did well against Goa.”

“We have to work on the mentality of players. It is not only us, but the rest of the league too. You see the team winning the match tends to sit back and defend while the other team attacks and presses. In the last three matches, teams have scored late and a lot has changed in the final minutes,” he added.

Youngster Mobashir Rahman, who attended the briefing with the coach, spoke about the mood in the camp and revealed, “After the loss against ATK, the mood was a little down but the win against FC Goa have brought the confidence back. We are working hard and will try to get the three points against NorthEast.”

Read the Match Preview here.

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