Jamshedpur FC assistant coach Steven Dias is upbeat about their chances of making it to the Indian Super League (ISL) playoffs as they prepare to resume their league campaign against Kerala Blasters FC on Saturday.

The upcoming fixture at the JRD Tata Sports Complex holds immense importance for both sides, as they vie for coveted playoff spots. Currently positioned eighth in the standings with 20 points from 19 games, Jamshedpur FC trail sixth-placed Punjab FC by a mere point. 

With just three league fixtures remaining, including a challenging away encounter against Chennaiyin FC and a crucial home match against FC Goa, Jamshedpur FC will be desperate to secure their place in the playoffs. Dias admitted that reaching there won’t be an easy task but believes his side deserve to be there. 

“It will be tough (fighting for the playoffs) because all teams (we will be facing) are equally good. Our target is to qualify. If you ask me personally, given the players and the team we have, we deserve to be in the top six and qualify. We are working hard. The team is doing well and if we have the support of the fans, we can definitely qualify,” Dias said in the pre-match press conference.

In their recent league match against Mumbai City FC, Jamshedpur FC played out a 1-1 draw, but the Islanders were later awarded a 3-0 win due to a rule violation by Jamshedpur FC, leading to forfeiture. Despite this setback, Dias remains optimistic about his team's ability to bounce back and secure a positive result in their upcoming fixture.

“The players have come back after a long break. They are all focused. The training has been going well. What the coach has explained to the players about their roles, they are clear about what they need to do in attack and defence. We are going with the same strategy that we had before the break and we will continue doing that. Hopefully we can have a good result,” he said. 

Jamshedpur FC has played nine home games this season, securing only two wins at the JRD Tata Sports Complex. Despite their home struggles, the Furnace has proved to be a formidable venue for opposition teams. With two home matches in their final three league games, assistant coach Dias urged supporters to turn up in large numbers and assured them that the team would give their utmost effort.

“As a professional player and as a coach, I have always felt that without fans, there is no football. So I request them to come in large numbers as it gives extra motivation for players and coaches to perform well. I request them to come in large numbers and support us and definitely we will give our best,” the former India midfielder said.  

Dias previously served as an assistant coach for Jamshedpur FC during the 2019-20 season before being involved with Odisha FC the following season. Dias who rejoined Jamshedpur FC back in 2023, spoke about the improvement he has seen in the ISL as both player and as coach.

“There has definitely been a boost in Indian football because of the ISL especially with the talented foreign players coming here. The football here has developed because of their help. In the future, I hope more talented players come and that we (Indians) get to learn from them. If you ask me personally, there is not much difference between Indian and foreign players. Indian players are doing very well. Definitely we will see Indian football on the world map very soon,” he expressed. 

I'll do everything that I can to help the team: Komal Thatal

Jamshedpur FC winger Komal Thatal accompanied Dias in the pre-match press conference. Despite only playing two matches this season and last featuring for the team against Bengaluru FC in December, Thatal has returned to full fitness after missing a significant portion of the season due to injury. He expressed his eagerness to contribute to the team's success.

“As a player, you always want to play. But sometimes, circumstances are such that you can’t do it, even if you want to because of injuries and a lot of other things. I’m happy that I’m in good in health right now and available for the games. I’ll do everything that I can to help the team,” he said in the pre-match press conference.

Thatal also addressed the team's upcoming clash against the Blasters, emphasising the importance of capitalising on their opportunities to secure a playoff berth.

“It's a very important game as we’re going for the playoffs. We have to treat this like our last game. Because if we lose that, it’s going to be very difficult for us. It’s a very good opportunity for us and on the other hand, we can’t afford to lose as well.”