September 27, 2023



ISL 4: Coppell looks to upset James’ unbeaten run

2 min read

Jamshedpur: The Yellow Army’s slow start has suddenly turned into a steady march towards the top four of the Indian Super League and so a resurgent Kerala Blasters FC’s match against Jamshedpur FC here on Wednesday is gaining too much importance.

The Blasters, fresh from their fighting 1-0 away win over Mumbai, are also riding high on the form of Iain Hume who is back among the goals after struggling for minutes under former head coach Rene Muelensteen. The return of David James has also seen the Blasters revert to a more direct system and it will be interesting to see how Jamshedpur’s miserly defence handles the pressure at home.

It will also be a fiery game — with Jamshedpur’s grit formulated on the same base that their head coach Steve Coppell once gave Kerala Blasters in the past. That said, Coppell was clear to speak his mind that it would take a higher level of refereeing decisions to see that the game did not end controversially.

“I think the referees haven’t been up to the mark on the evidence of their displays so far. They have been found wanting and there have been a lot of games which have been decided on big decisions and later proved to be questionable. I am in favour of video review and every game is televised with 10 odd cameras and why don’t we use this technology — it is being used in England and generally it has been a positive,” he said. At the same time, he was sympathetic towards referees, saying they were under pressure and deserved the video evidence support.

As for the game itself, Coppell said that there has been significant impact since David James joined as coach: “The preparation we would make for this team three weeks ago is different from the preparation we are making for them for tomorrow’s game. It’s also a game we are desperate to win,” he said. Coppell’s words are backed by the mathematical equation — if Jamshedpur lose, the gap between them and the top four will be at least four points or more.

James, who hasn’t yet lost in his return to Kerala (one draw and two wins), sounded confident with his side’s form, but also realises that the games his side have won have kept him on the edge.

“The wins were vital. 1-0 is my favourite scoreline because it keeps you on the edge but the match against Mumbai was physically and mentally draining. But confidence is high and we look forward to the match. It’s difficult to predict the side, but there is a lot of energy in Jamshedpur and we expect an energetic match,” he said.

James also acknowledged that his side had too much quality to be languishing in the bottom half — whether this quality will come up trumps against Jamshedpur is an entirely different story.

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