Punjab FC will be aiming to make it three wins in a row when they host Jamshedpur FC at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi on Thursday, February 15, at 7:30 pm IST, in the Indian Super League (ISL) 2023-24. The league debutants have emerged as a formidable force since the resumption of the competition late last month. They pulled off an absolute heist by getting a 3-1 win over Kerala Blasters FC in Kochi on Saturday, and have been significantly strengthened by striker Wilmar Jordan Gil pulling the strings upfront for them.

The trio of Gil, Madih Talal, and Luka Majcen have built a remarkable partnership in the frontline, helping them dominate the opposition with a beautiful blend of creativity and ruthless efficiency inside the box. Similarly, Jamshedpur FC has been an improved unit since tactician Khalid Jamil took over the reins.

The Red Miners have drawn against NorthEast United FC and Bengaluru FC and won at the home of Mumbai City FC in their three games since the halfway mark of the ISL campaign. With a robust backline, fleet footed wingers, and goal-scoring attackers, Jamshedpur FC has turned a lead in this campaign and boosted their chances of finishing in the top-six. With two newly emerged playoff contenders clashing, spectators should expect fireworks and nothing else in the coming encounter.

What’s at stake?

Punjab FC

This is the first time that Staikos Vergetis’ side has recorded two consecutive victories in the ISL, with the tactician admitting that his players are better adapted to deal with the challenges of the top tier after the first few months. Now, they have a chance to secure back-to-back wins in home games for the first time, and such runs promise to hold the side in good stead going forward. Earlier, Vergetis had said that the team was struggling to come to terms with the quick transitions prevalent in the ISL.

Also Read: Turning the tide: Punjab FC finally feel at home in the ISL

However, they seemed to have adjusted to that well, registering nine fast breaks this term, which is the joint-highest (along with NEUFC) amongst all teams this season. They were lethal on the counter against Kerala Blasters FC and one must be shaping a similar game plan to overcome the challenge that Jamil’s Jamshedpur FC will put forth against them. With momentum favouring both sides, let’s see if Punjab FC plays with the same confidence and courage that they did in the previous two matches.

Jamshedpur FC

The previous fixture between the two teams had resulted in a goalless draw in Jamshedpur earlier this season. They will be facing Punjab FC away from home for the first time. However, they have won only once in their last five instances of facing an opponent for the maiden occasion in the away turf in the ISL – losing and drawing twice each in this period. Their goal-scoring concerns from earlier in the campaign have been adequately addressed now, scoring once each at least in their previous five games.

The last time they went on a longer such stretch was 11 games between January-March 2022. A nice combination of youngsters like Mohammed Sanan, Daniel Chima Chukwu, Jeremy Manzorro, and Imran Khan amongst others has ensured that their attacking endeavours are bearing tangible results. Jamshedpur FC 49.6 duels on an average per game, which is the highest amongst all sides in the competition. This suggests that they will be combative in the middle and hence a gripping contest is surely on the cards for Thursday. 

Key Players

Wilmar Jordan Gil (Punjab FC)

The Colombian has come as an air of fresh breath for Punjab FC in the second half of the campaign. The former NorthEast United FC striker has been on the mark thrice in the last two games, and it is his varied skill sets as a striker that has earned him significant applause. He has been able to make quick turns inside the box, outwitting the defenders with his footwork. Gil is wonderfully agile and has a powerful shot up his sleeves. He is efficient in the air, able to convert several types of crosses. At the same time, he plays a crucial role in interlinking with Majcen and setting up opportunities for both the Slovenian as well as Talal whenever required. Gil has form by his side and he will want to make the most out of it against an inspired Jamshedpur FC unit.

Imran Khan (Jamshedpur FC)

The attacker has scored twice and assisted once in his last three league appearances. Overall, he has made four goal contributions in 12 matches this season and is one away from completing 50 ISL appearances. He has created 16 goal-scoring opportunities and made 27 passes at an accuracy of 78% in ISL 2023-24. He has been a livewire on the flank, unafraid of taking on the opposition, beating his markers with quick footwork, getting inside the box in dangerous positions, taking shots at the goalkeeper and also setting up sweet chances for his teammates. In addition to that, he has made nine interceptions and earned 14 fouls, thus delivering all-round impactful performances on both ends of the pitch.

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Head-to-Head

Played – 1

Punjab FC – 0

Jamshedpur FC – 0

Draws – 1

Trivia: Daniel Chima Chukwu is averaging 3.1 shots per game this ISL season, the second-highest after Noah Sadaoui (5.3) and Dimitrios Petratos (3.4).

Team Talk

 “I am satisfied not from the results, but with the fact that our players have executed the plans well in all phases of the game. If it happens in every game then in most of the games we will get positive results, which is why it is the most important thing for me,” Punjab FC head coach Staikos Vergetis said in the pre-match press conference.

“I motivate the players, as I said before. Whatever results we have got is because of their hard work. We have put in collective efforts and everyone has been working together for the same,” Jamshedpur FC head coach Khalid Jamil quipped ahead of the match.

ISL Fantasy

Madih Talal (5.4cr)

Assisted twice in the last game

Luka Majcen (8.3cr)

Scored from a spot-kick in the previous match

Daniel Chima Chukwu (5.6cr)

Always a goal-scoring threat upfront for JFC

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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 HD (English), Sports18 3 SD (English, Hindi, Malayalam and Bengali), VH1 SD & HD (English), Surya Movies (Malayalam), News 18 Kerala (Malayalam – select matches) & DD Bangla (Bengali). Fans can also catch the action streaming Live for free on JioCinema, the home of Indian football. 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.