JFC may be high on confidence after posting an emphatic 3-1 win at home on Sunday but Cesar Ferrando’s boys will have to pull off something special when they meet with a crack Northeast United FC in an Indian Super League tie at JRD Tata Sports Complex Saturday evening.
Northeast’s record of not losing an away match so far puts an extra burden on Jamshedpur who are one step behind the visitors on the points table. Moreover, Northeast are here with back-to-back wins against Kerala Blasters FC (2-1) and FC Pune City (2-0).
But JFC head coach Ferrando did not seem worried about the away match winning stints of the opponents. “NUFC is a good and strong team. But we can win if we play as a team unit,” he said at a pre-match press conference on Friday.
Asked if Jamshedpur would be under pressure given that his boys were in a similar situation against NUFC in Guwahati in the last match, but still managed to play a 1-1 draw, Ferrando said all matches were different. “I am aware they have 4-5 good players. But we need to play as a cohesive unit to win the tie,” he added.
On injury concerns, Ferrando said defenders Raju Gaekwad and Yumnam Raju would be out of Saturday’s match. The former has hamstring issues while Raju is yet to fully recover from a toe injury.
Ferrando’s counterpart, Eelco Schattorie, said Jamshepdur was a well-knit and organised team like his and he expected an interesting match. “JFC is one of the best teams in the tournament. I personally admire their captain Jose Luis Espinosa Arroyo ‘Tiri.’ He (Tiri) is a very good defender,” he added.
Schattorie said they were aware that JFC was yet to lose a match at home. “But we’ll play like we are playing,” the NUFC head coach said, adding that the 15-hour journey from Pune to Jamshedpur was tiring.
“Such long travelling makes muscles tight. But I am not complaining. It’s the same with all ISL teams,” he added.
NUFC flew to Calcutta from Pune and travelled by bus to Jamshepdur. They reached Wednesday night.
Jamshedpur are placed fourth on the table with 14 points from nine matches while NUFC are third with 17 points from eight outings.
Jamshedpur posted a 3-1 win over Chennaiyin FC in their last match here.
Over 21,000 tickets have been sold for Saturday’s encounter.
JFC have signed 21-year-old midfielder Malsawmzuala as a replacement for forward Gourav Mukhi, who is serving a six-month suspension handed by the AIFF for age discrepancy. Malsawmzuala, who hails from Mizoram, was with the ATK in the ongoing ISL.