While Jamshedpur started their 2021-22 Indian Super League campaign with a disheartening 1-1 draw against SC East Bengal, Hyderabad had to be on the wrong side against Chennaiyin FC, going down 0-1 even after being the better team on the night. However, justifying their abilities, both have come back to winning ways in their last games.
As Jamshedpur comfortably beat last season’s semifinalists FC Goa 3-1, the Nizams got the better of defending champions Mumbai City by identical margin. And both the winners were clearly the better sides playing some quality football to take the game away from their heavyweight opponents.
With renewed vigour and at their attacking best, both sides will aim to get the better of their opposition on Thursday evening. However, Hyderabad coach Manolo Marquez is quite aware of the clear and present danger his boys are up against. “For me, Owen Coyle’s team is always tough to face. Last season, both games were very equal and ended in a draw,” said the Spanish gaffer during a virtual press conference ahead of the match on Wednesday.
JFC have former ISL top-scorer Nerijus Valskis and Jordan Murray in attack and both were on the scoresheet in the previous encounter. Former Rangers midfielder, Greg Stewart, too, showed his value with both assists for Valskis’ double against Goa. Stewart, struggling with a thigh injury, played only 13 minutes in Jamshedpur’s opener but he started the Goa match and created some real goalscoring opportunities for the Red Miners.
The 31-year-old’s combination with Valskis looked magical and promises to grow further. Alex Lima is another key man for Coyle’s side, playing a box-to-box role to near perfection.
“Jamshedpur are a really strong side. Valskis and Murray are there to finish chances but I think they have high quality all around the pitch. Fast wingers, technically good midfielders, and experienced defenders; Jamshedpur have a strong squad, a compact team and we will have to work really hard to win this game,” said Marquez about their rivals’ strength.
Hyderbad will hope overseas duo — striker Bartholomew Ogbeche and captain Joao Victor — continue to play pivotal roles and the Indian youths, they have invested in, pay rich dividends.
Coyle, meanwhile, is pretty excited to play against Hyderabad and sounded confident about their scope and prospect from the match. “They are a good team, they have a good coach. They lost the opening match but football people will know they were the better side. It will be a tough game for both of us. I think we both are playing some good attacking football and we have to make sure that we are on the right side of the margin and if we are very best we feel that we can win this game,” said the English coach.
While Halicharan Narzary continues to be out of contention for the Nizams with a knee injury, Coyle will have a full squad at his disposal. Murray and Stewart have some niggles but there’s no doubt about their availability for the match.