Jamshedpur FC’s new interim head coach Scott Cooper is expecting a tough game against a tough side as his team begin their Indian Super League (ISL) 2023-24 campaign against East Bengal FC at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan, in Kolkata, on Monday. 

Jamshedpur FC clinched the League Shield in the 2021-22 season but had a campaign to forget last season under Aidy Boothroyd, finishing 10th in the league standings. They have appointed a new head coach in Cooper and also made wholesome changes to their squad, similar to opponents East Bengal FC. 

While Jamshedpur FC will be playing away from home in their opener, they will be encouraged by the 2-1 win they recorded against the Red & Golds in Kolkata last season. Cooper was wary about the strengths of East Bengal FC and stated that it won’t be an easy task for his side to get the three points. 

“We've done our homework. We know they have a very good coach (in Cuadrat), a coach who has done very well in the ISL, made strides at Bengaluru FC, and achieved some notable milestones that still haven't been surpassed. So, you have to respect his work. We know it's a big club, steeped in history with a lot of good players. We understand that any teams playing at home in Kolkata are formidable opponents. Therefore, we are under no illusions that this is going to be anything other than a very tough game against a very good coach with very good players,” he stated in the pre-match press conference. 

Since their debut ISL season during the 2017-18 campaign, Jamshedpur FC have qualified for the ISL playoff on just one occasion. The team has struggled for consistency under different head coaches and has just won one title in six seasons. Cooper acknowledged that his team needed time to gel together as one unit and said his focus was to build a strong foundation for the club alongside delivering results on a consistent basis. 

“Consistency is our primary goal. The way to achieve this is to build a short, mid, and long-term project with younger players coming through, mixed with some experienced players and foreign players who fit our philosophy of play. These foreign players should complement the experienced players and serve as mentors for the younger ones. This is a team that should gain momentum as the season progresses. We can't expect everything to fall into place immediately, like some well-established teams such as Mohun Bagan Super Giant or Mumbai City FC. However, we believe we are in a good position and are happy with our current situation. We also believe that this team will continue to improve,” he explained.

“This team will get better and better. We have eleven new players, a new staff, a new head coach, and a new captain. We are looking to build something sustainable that can be repeated in the following seasons. As coaches, our objectives are to win games, develop players, and build a strong foundation for the future,” he further said.

Cooper confirmed that Ritwik Das has not travelled with the squad to Kolkata and won't feature against East Bengal FC.