Winless Jamshedpur FC and NorthEast United FC on collision course at The Furnace
Jamshedpur FC return to The Furnace as they eye their first win of the season, in front of their fans, against NorthEast United FC in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) match at the JRD Tata Sports Complex in Jamshedpur on Sunday. The Hero ISL 2021-22 league winners are currently winless in two games while the Highlanders have lost all three of their games so far this season.
Jamshedpur FC have lost just eight of their 27 matches at home. They have won eleven and drawn eight of the other 19 matches so far. Additionally, NorthEast United FC have never won at this stadium in the Hero ISL. In three matches, the Highlanders have drawn two and lost one.
The Red Miners were at the wrong end of a dramatic turnaround in their first game against Odisha FC. In their second game, they had to settle for a point against Mumbai City FC. In the last two matches, Jamshedpur FC finished with an average ball possession of 38.5%, which is also lower than their opponents (50% after three games).
JFC head coach Aidy Boothroyd switched from a 4-3-3 to a traditional 4-4-2 in the last game. Primary centre-back Peter Hartley was unavailable against Mumbai City FC as Pratik Chaudhari took his place in defence. This allowed Boothroyd to add a foreign player to the team as he deployed striker Harry Sawyer alongside Daniel Chukwu. Chukwu has scored two goals in two games and will be the key game.
“The preparation has been really good. The players are in good spirits, training hard and working well. The whole squad wants to get going and get some games. We started the season, had a ten-day break, and had to start it again. So we are looking forward to the game tomorrow,” said Boothroyd.
“It should be a good game, and we have to ensure our home record remains strong,” he added.
The Highlanders come into this game with just one win in their last 16 Hero ISL games. The last time they won a game was when they beat Bengaluru FC 2-1 last season. NorthEast United FC have never lost four consecutive opening matches in the league. The last time they lost three successive opening games was in 2015, although they ended up winning the fourth one that season.
NorthEast United FC's head coach Marco Balbul will be hoping for history to repeat itself against the Red Miners. In their last match against East Bengal FC, the Highlanders attempted 18 shots. Only three were on target. Balbul will be expecting his front three to be clinical in the final third to convert opportunities that come to them.
So far, Balbul has deployed a 4-3-3 formation. In all three games, he has played a new player on the right flank. In the first match against BFC, Emil Benny started on the right. Youngster Parthib Gogoi replaced Benny in the second match against HFC. In the last match against East Bengal FC, Rochharzela was given the nod.
Attackers Matt Derbyshire and Jithin MS have started every game so far. Balbul is likely to stick to his primary formation. It will be interesting to see who the NEUFC head coach picks for the right flank this time around.
"We are frustrated and dissatisfied with the results so far. Zero points from three matches are not what we expected. We should be better in defence, avoid mistakes and try not to concede goals. In offence, we should be more efficient in the final-third,” said Balbul.
“We are focused on improving these aspects and want to walk out on the pitch tomorrow to get our first points,” he added.
The two sides have faced each other ten times in the Hero ISL. Half of those matches have ended in draws. The Red Miners have won four while the Highlanders have just won one. The hosts did the double over NorthEast United FC last season