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ISL 2019-20: Antonio Iriondo ticking all the right boxes at Jamshedpur FC

13:20 GMT+3 30/10/2019
Jamshedpur FC v Hyderabad FC
The Red Miners now need to show consistency after getting off to a flying start...

In the past two editions of the Indian Super League (ISL), Jamshedpur FC have narrowly fell short of qualifying for the playoffs. Under the tutelage of Steve Coppell and then Cesar Ferrando, the Tata Group-owned side finished fifth on both occasions and are yet to make an appearance in the knock-out stages of the tournament. 

Their journey so far in ISL has been riddled with inconsistency has which has thwarted them from achieving their objectives. But with the arrival of Antonio Iriondo, it seems that things have started to change for the better. 

For their first time in their brief history, Jamshedpur have managed to win two games on the trot. They were the more dominant side in both the wins and the fact that they managed to beat Odisha FC even with 10-men for the bulk of the match shows that Iriondo has been ticking all the right boxes behind the scenes. 

Credit must be given to the Spaniard as his side looks tight in defence, cohesive in midfield and lethal in attack. If Tiri has been leading the backline with his experience and expertise, the new recruits Piti and Sergio Castel have impressed with their performances in midfield and attack. 

Piti flourished as an orchestrator in midfield against Hyderabad. He dictated the tempo of the match and with his guile and creativity, he left the likes of Adil Khan and Marko Stankovic at their wit's end. The 38-year old was also the primary architect behind Jamshedpur's first goal. His deft footwork left Nikhil Poojary red-faced and Kamaljit Singh could only get a feeble touch to his powerful shot which set up Farukh Choudhary who kept sniffing around the six-yard box to pounce on the slightest opportunity. 

Whereas Castel showed his class during the third goal where he wrong-footed both the center-backs before slotting it past Kamaljit Singh. Jamshedpur had lacked a marksman like him in the previous two seasons who would always keep the opposition defense guessing about his next move. He is a bundle of energy on the field and always shuffles his position which makes him a difficult customer to deal with. 

Iriondo's team operates as a unit which allows them to always have an extra man to win the second balls. Aitor Monroy and Mobashir Rahaman kept hounding Marcelinho and co. whenever they received the ball in the attacking third which further hindered Hyderabad's attempts to get a grip on proceedings. Although the visiting side did pull things back just at the nick of half-time, it was Subrata Paul who lent a helping hand by reacting a tad slower and conceding at the first post. 

The Spanish gaffer has also been able to bring out the best from his Indian players. Farukh has been a revelation for Jamshedpur in the opening two matches with his skill, pace, and improved positioning. He has been given the license to roam and the youngster is making the most of it. He drifted to the wide areas and also exchanged position with Castel on numerous occassions which made life difficult for Gurtej and Matthew at the heart of defence. His cut back to Aniket Jadhav from the left flank and the subsequent composure shown by the Indian Arrows product speak volumes of the hard work that has been put in in the training ground. 

Although it is early days in the season, this Jamshedpur side looks to have what it takes to challenge for the championship. They have hit the ground running and it remains to be seen whether they can remain consistent with their form. They host Bengaluru FC next at the furnace and if Iriondo's men can come out unscathed of that challenge then they might be regarded as the dark horse of this season.