Jamshedpur FC will take their search for a victory in the Indian Super League (ISL) 2023-24 to the Gachibowli Stadium as they prepare to face Hyderabad FC on December 21, Thursday. It does not take too long for times to change in sport. Jamshedpur FC had won the ISL League Winners Shield in 2021-22, and Hyderabad FC lifted the ISL trophy by winning the final against Kerala Blasters FC that season. They were comfortably the two best teams in the country less than two years ago, and still both these clubs have been subjected to mixed fortunes this season, with the Red Miners winning once in 10 games, whereas Hyderabad FC are yet to secure three points from any of their matches thus far. Goal-scoring has been a major concern for these sides, with skilful forwards failing to find the back of the net consistently.

Hyderabad FC head coach Thangboi Singto has repeatedly appreciated the efforts that his support staff and players continue to churn out in training despite their results so far. However, that perseverance has to result into positive on-field outcomes for their season.  Similarly, Jamshedpur FC tactician Scott Cooper has insisted on being unshakeable in his coaching philosophy. He has been appreciative of his team’s solidity at the back, which reflects in them giving away 11 goals in 10 games until now. However, their forwards need to deliver equally impressive outputs upfront for all these factors to click cohesively and deliver victories for Jamshedpur FC.

“What's missing is probably some players with a real desire to win this. It's not a question of tactics, because we're in this every game. It comes down to the nitty-gritty of how much you want to win and whether you are willing to do it right. And so, part of football teams and successful ones I've been on, it's not always been (having) the most blessed players, but they have a real desire and a drive to win. And I'm searching for those players in our football club. We've got some, but we don't have enough. And with the January transfer window looming, some players should be very concerned,” Cooper had issued a stern warning to his players after their 1-0 loss to Bengaluru FC in the last game.

Will we see a response on Thursday?

What’s at stake?

Hyderabad FC

For starters, the home side does not have the best of records against the Red Miners. Jamshedpur FC won their only ISL fixture this season against the Thangboi Singto-coached side on October 5. Overall, Hyderabad FC have beaten Jamshedpur FC only once in the ISL so far, which is their least number of wins against any team they have played at least thrice in the competition.

They have not kept a clean sheet until now in this campaign, and that should be an area that Singto should lay his focus on to improve their prospects for this faceoff. At the same time, Hyderabad FC have multiple promising forwards in the form of Joe Knowles and Mohammad Yasir, who have shown shades of what they are capable of but have been unable to do the deliverables regularly.

Sides risk losing the incredible value addition that their supporters bring to the table when they succumb to such unfortunate form. Fans can take the fact that their team is losing, but they cannot bear them not putting up even a fight. Hyderabad FC need to ensure that they get the people roaring in their support, as it could be a major factor for the turnaround they are eyeing as the halfway mark of the campaign nears.

Jamshedpur FC

The players don’t have much time to make amends before January, and the least they can hope to do is to put up a spirited performance and show that they care for the badge.

Their defensive discipline aside, Jamshedpur FC has had some terrific creativity in their ranks, thanks to Rei Tachikawa and Jeremy Monzorro, along with a powerful forward in Daniel Chima Chukwu. Their domestic players such as Seiminlen Doungel can be useful if their potential is tapped upon appropriately. It can be argued that they have been unlucky in many accounts, having hit the woodwork six times this season - the most by any team in the league. They also have the worst differential between expected goals (10.04) and actual goals scored (six) in the ongoing ISL season (-4.04 xG value).

A more definitive approach upfront will do their campaign a world of good, and they should aim for that starting this fixture against Hyderabad FC, giving them a fantastic opportunity to do a league double with a possible win over the opponents.

Key Players to Watch Out

Nikhil Poojary (Hyderabad FC)

The fullback has been a constant figure in the Hyderabad FC backline, running up and down the flank, doing his defensive duties, and trying to make something happen in the front with his lateral passes too. Poojary has risen through the ranks to become a regular starter for the national team too lately, and he should be one of the players taking the onus to spark an inspiration for his team. So far, he has recorded 1.9 tackles and two clearances per game this season, but has been unable to notch a single goal contribution. Poojary’s footwork has improved considerably, helping him take on the opposition and get past them into dangerous positions. If he blends that with accurate, razor sharp deliveries in the final third, then it could mean only good things for Hyderabad FC.

TP Rehenesh (Jamshedpur FC)

The 30-year-old has helped Jamshedpur FC keep three clean sheets this season, making 24 saves with an impressive 72% saves percentage, in addition to averaging 28 passes with 50% accuracy per game. Rehenesh has been rock solid between the posts for Jamshedpur FC, probably being their standout performer in an otherwise disappointing campaign so far. He arranges the backline, constantly communicates with defenders especially during set-pieces, and his positioning has been accurate in order to make the right stops at the right time. Rehenesh has perhaps uplifted his game with the ball at his feet too, and these factors should actually encourage the Jamshedpur FC defensive unit to be braver and take the initiative to move the ball higher up the field and explore goal-scoring chances.

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Played – 9

Hyderabad FC – 1

Jamshedpur FC – 4

Draws – 4

Trivia: Hyderabad FC (five) and Jamshedpur FC (six) have scored the least number of goals in ISL 2023-24.

Team Talk

“We are really happy to be back in Hyderabad, because, this is our home, this is our fortress. For everyone involved in Hyderabad FC, they deserve something more, something better,” Hyderabad FC head coach Thangboi Singto admitted, saying that they need to put in more efforts to get that elusive first win of the season.

“We have got no excuses because we have got more breaks than Hyderabad FC. We have been here for several days. Both teams really need the win. It’s a must win game, for fans, owners, coaches, players of both teams, the way I see it is that we have to win this game,” Jamshedpur FC tactician Scott Cooper remarked in the pre-match press conference.

ISL Fantasy

TP Rehenesh (3.4cr)

Has recorded 2.66 saves per game

Daniel Chima Chukwu (5.4cr)

Always a goal threat due to his imposing presence inside the box

Mohammed Yasir (6.9cr)

One goal and an assist each in this campaign

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Where to Watch

Fans across the country can catch the action in English, Hindi, Bengali, and Malayalam. Fans can watch the action on linear channels like Sports18 Khel (Hindi), Sports18 1 SD & HD (English), Sports18 3 SD (English, Hindi, Malayalam and Bengali), VH1 SD & HD (English), Surya Movies (Malayalam) & DD Bangla (Bengali). In addition to this, as part of FSDL’s partnership with OneFootball, ISL live streams and highlights of all matches of the upcoming 2023-24 season will be delivered across more than 190 countries.