The Jamshedpur FC contingent will assemble in Goa, the venue for the Indian Super League (ISL) 2020-21 season, for pre-seasons by the end of this month.
With most of the players, including the ones from abroad, on board, the Tata Steel-owned club is in no mood to lose precious time in slipping into the training groove.
The club had arranged its pre-seasons in Thailand in the 2017-18 season and Spain was the destination in the following season. However, JFC conducted its pre-seasons in Jamshedpur for the 2019-20 calendar.
The pandemic has forced ISL organisers Football Sports Development Limited to organise the tournament at a single venue (Goa).
“Goa has already opened up for tourism. So there is no harm in reaching there early. We would be getting adequate time to prepare since the ISL is scheduled in November,” a team management said on condition of anonymity.
According to him, the players and the support staff would go through Covid test and remain consigned to a secure bio-bubble environment for at least a week after reaching Goa.
"Regular Covid testing will be done even though SOP (standard operating procedure) is yet to be announced," he said, adding that even the bus drivers ferrying the players to the ground for training would be quarantined.
“Special precautionary measures will be taken to ensure the safety and security of the players, support staff and officials,” the member pointed out.
The Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Fatorda, the Tilak Nagar Stadium in Vasco da Gama and the GMC Athletic Stadium in Bambolim are the three venues slated to host the matches with strict training and social distancing protocols.
The JFC squad is almost in place and preparations for the Goa sojourn is underway. The club is currently busy in intimating the players and support staff about the proposed pre-season and working out the logistics.
Jamshedpur has this time made serious efforts to form a strong unit. The robust team formation is aimed at making the club qualify for the play-offs this time. Appointing Owen Coyle as the head coach is also a step in that direction. Coyle has been instrumental in pulling in the top foreign players, including Nerijus Valskis, Peter Hartley and Stephen Eze.
JFC has not been able to make it to the knock-out stage ever since it made its debut in the cash-rich tournament three years ago.
“Goa could well prove lucky for us. We have a strong team and we see no reason why we won’t be able to make it to the play-offs and beyond. In fact, we have rivetted our attention on the trophy,” another team management member said.
Chief executive officer of JFC Mukul Choudhari said they are very positive about their prospects and were sure the players would perform as per their reputation. “We have stitched out a strong unit and are optimistic about a positive outcome,” he added.