After a disappointing draw against NorthEast United FC, the Men of Steel travel south to face Kerala Blasters FC where a victory is paramount for both sides.
Jamshedpur FC’s last match against the Highlanders was a cagey affair where both sides eventually cancelled each other out. Jamshedpur FC were not at their sparkling best, lacking their usual spark in the final third. The Men of Steel didn’t make the most of their possession and neither did NorthEast United FC which resulted in a stalemate.
When it comes to the two-time runners up of the Indian Super League, Kerala Blasters haven’t had the greatest of seasons so far, having mustered up only one point in the last four games. Their only win this season came all the way back in September against ATK in their opening game which has been followed by a string of draws and defeats. It’s been a frustrating season so far for David James and his men who have mustered just eight points from nine games (5 draws, 3 losses).
When these two sides previously met in the league, the resulting match was a classic case of a game of two halves. Jamshedpur FC dominated the first half and had two goals on the scoresheet to reflect their dominance. However, in the second half, the Men of Steel failed to score the crucial third goal to kill the tie off and were subsequently punished by the away side, as the game ended in a 2-2 draw. It wasn’t a perfect comeback like the one David James would have hoped for but his side showed a lot of character in the second half to wrestle back and win a point at the Furnace.
When asked about facing Kerala Blasters FC again, Cesar Ferrando had the following to say, “I think Kerala Blasters is a good team and they have a good coach. It will be difficult because they are playing at home. Out of all the home matches we have played, Kerala Blasters have been the strongest team. It’s a big match tomorrow, playing in front of their supporters. The one point in four matches won’t affect them when they are playing against us. But we are ready to play them tomorrow. They are a strong team and they play very well at home.”
Cesar Ferrando has made constant changes in his defence line since the beginning of the season. When asked about his team selection, the boss said, “We kept a clean sheet in the last match. We need a center-back that can complement Tiri. Tomorrow we have the same doubt about the center-back pairing. When you make a lot of changes, there’s something wrong with the team. We are constantly working on our defence.”
Ferrando was also asked to weigh-in on the debate regarding a national team call-up for Michael Soosairaj who has emerged as one of the most talked about players in the league. Talking on the issue, Ferrando stated, “Soosairaj has improved with every match that he has played. I like the way he plays very much. Regarding the national team, I am not the coach and it’s not my decision. I am happy with his work. He works hard in training every day. And he has improved a lot. I am very happy with him overall.”
When it comes to injuries in the Jamshedpur FC squad, the defensive duo of Raju Gaikwad and Yumnam Raju are out along with the Spanish forward Sergio Cidoncha, who is set to return after the December break. For the Kerala Blasters, Courage Pekuson is a doubt for tomorrow whereas Sandesh Jhingan and C.K. Vineeth are expected to be drafted back in the starting XI.
The onus will definitely be on the Men of Steel to get a positive result in a difficult away fixture and rise up to the second spot in the league table.