Jamshedpur FC head coach Aidy Boothroyd feels his team have been better off late and wants them to keep the momentum going as they square off against Odisha FC in their final league game of the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2022-23 season at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar on Wednesday.

Having notched full points in a comeback victory against Hyderabad FC in their last game, the Men of Steel are keen to keep the momentum going and inflict a defeat on Odisha FC, who need just one point to qualify for the playoffs. Boothroyd acknowledged the quality of their opponents and believes his side will give them a tough fight on Wednesday.

“It seems a lifetime away since we last played against each other in that monsoon evening. We were beaten by a last minute goal and that hurt. So, like with any of the games, Odisha FC, are a very good team, (they’re) going very well. We want to see if we can finish strong as well, we've had a considerable upturn of form in the last six games or actually ten games. So, we're happy where we are; disappointed not to be going into the playoffs. But for the integrity of the league, it's important that we give our best and go all out to win the game,” Boothroyd stated in the official pre-match press conference.

The Men of Steel would be aiming for a fifth win in their final match of the season. Boothroyd’s men have made a massive turnaround in the closing stages of the league as they picked up three wins in their last six matches. The Englishman highlighted that this boost of performance will help them be ready for the upcoming competition after the league concludes. 

“We don't want the season to end, we want to keep it going. So, I'm thankful we got the Hero Super Cup and the qualifying game for the AFC Champions League. So, that's exciting for us, we still got plenty to play for. Players are playing for places and for what it means, of course, is that when some players get the opportunity they might not normally have had, they grasp that and you know, go with it,” he said.

The side are third on chance creation this season, having accumulated 195 chances over 19 games this season, but have scored only 19 goals, second lowest among all teams this season. Boothroyd laid emphasis on his side’s shot conversion and feels it is only a matter of time before the team starts clicking.

“I think it was like 70 shots over three games, which is ridiculous. Really, we weren't converting. But looking at it from the sideline, it's actually quite a positive thing because if you were conceding goals and you're not creating, then you'd have a problem, but we are creating and we've just started to convert now,” he said.

“It’s also about the players playing together, getting used to each other. The first half of the season was a really tricky, sticky period for us. Everything that could go wrong went wrong, but the last 10 games I've been really pleased with everybody in the squad and group knows their job. It's given an opportunity To Jitendra Singh to get a chance to play and show what he's all about, and he was fantastic in the last game,” he added.

With both teams sharing contrasting fronts, the 52-year-old praised his Odisha FC counterpart Josep Gombau and expects a good game on Wednesday.

“A good team. I like the coach. I like the way he plays the game and like his passion, he always wants to have a fight on the sideline, which I like. I think you've got some exciting players that score goals. It should be a good game. It was a good game, the first game so we want to see if we can replicate that and come away with three points,” he concluded.

Midfielder Jitendra Singh accompanied head coach Aidy Boothroyd in the pre-match press conference. A regular under former head coach Owen Coyle, Singh hasn’t made as many appearances this season and has featured in just 12 matches.

Having come on as a substitute in the last game for striker Daniel Chima Chukwu, the midfielder was key in hindering Hyderabad FC’s chances at goal. The midfielder explained his role under Boothroyd.

“We are a team, we need to be there for each other to do what we need to do. The coach told me to just go and play in my position and just control the game. So, I did my job,” Jitendra stated. 

The 21-year-old has made 31 tackles, 12 interceptions, eight blocks, and six clearances across 12 matches this season. He believes he still has room for improvement and is working on himself throughout the season.

“This season I have learnt a lot, I just need to keep my head down and keep working hard. Whenever I get the opportunity, I just need to prove myself. I just need to keep going as I still have a long way to go,” he concluded.