ISL Analysis | Clueless ATK fail to unlock Jamshedpur’s defence

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ISL Media

ISL Analysis | Clueless ATK fail to unlock Jamshedpur’s defence

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Subhayan Dutta


Jamshedpur FC maintained their 100% defensive record intact as they played out yet their third goalless draw of the campaign, this time against Atletico de Kolkata. The defending champions, however, will have to sort out a lot of things as they continue to dominate opponents with no end results.

ATK’s brand of play under Sheringham is destined to fail

Teddy Sheringham’s Atletico de Kolkata look nothing like defending champions, but rather an old Stoke City team, which lacked quality and creativity, but still remained a thorn in the neck for every side for their brutal physicality and ability to bore their opponents to death with wayward attempts. At a time when ISL is seeing teams like FC Goa and Pune City FC weaving their way past opponents, ATK look destined to fail.

Their strength is obvious - they have towering strikers, midfielders, and centre-halves to win all aerial duels and hope that it falls kindly for some pacey winger, who would be tracking the ball behind opponent’s defence. However, if crossing from the flanks was their only mode of attack last game, then it wasn’t even tried as much in today’s game (13 crosses and no header from them). With an immobile figure like Robin Singh up front, Zequinha and Eugeneson Lyngdoh were the only two players that could make things happen for ATK. But, after a dull first-half that saw Lyngdoh hobbling off, the gaffer’s decision to bring on Kuqi for Zequinha was pretty much the final nail in ATK’s coffin. The arrival of Robbie Keane can’t come fast enough for the team.

Jamshedpur keep their coherent defence intact

Steve Coppell came into the crucial game without centre-half Anas Edathodika, who had played a crucial role in preventing Chennai and Kerala from scoring in the last two games, and his decision to deputize old general Andre Bikey in that role worked brilliantly. Jamshedpur’s tactics haven’t seen a change in the last three games either, with central midfielder Mehtab Hossain dropping down to provide an extra cushion to the backline.

The defensive duo of Bikey and Tiri were Jamshedpur’s biggest armour today as they matched the duo of muscular Robin Singh and Kuqi strength for strength. Together they made 12 clearances, 2 interceptions, and two blocks, which in the end was enough to keep ATK at bay. ATK’s wide forwards, Hitesh Sharma and Bipin Singh, posed no threat whatsoever to Jamshedpur’s defence who saw off anything thrown at them with ease.

However, not conceding goals doesn’t win you a game and sooner rather than later, Jamshedpur will have to start creating chances. Their best player on the pitch today was Sameehg Doutie, who created three chances and attempted one shot on goal, but with no support the South African looked lost by the end.

Jamshedpur’s pitch played a huge spoiler

For a city that boasts of having one of the country’s best football academies, the JRD Tata Sports Complex’s turf was horrible. From the very first minute, when Robin Singh miscued a shot and his boot took away a large chunk of grass and sand along with the ball, Sheringham looked disappointed by it. Players were often seen experiencing cramps and slipping on the soggy and muddy track, which made the monotonous game all the more error-prone.

This was Jamshedpur’s first game on home turf and Coppell would hope his groundsmen mend things as quickly as possible as the home side struggled to get things going as well with their passes going all wobbly and players finding it very difficult to control the ball. Going direct was the best tactic on this kind of a pitch and while both the side tried, none of them could get anything out of it.

The Showstopper

Though the stalemate didn’t have many dazzlers to showcase their abilities, ATK’s Prabir Das stole the show with his amazing work rate. Playing under a tactician who has remained clueless for all the three games so far, with trial and error being his main gameplan, the full-back was the only spark that the visitors had on Friday.

Playing on the side that has Hitesh Sharma and Bipin Singh up front, Prabir Das realised quite early that he had to take matters into his hands. And his brilliant pass in the second-half that Robin Singh was the closest any side came to scoring today and could have been the only differentiator.

Apart from going up at every opportunity, Das was also responsible to keep Jamshedpur at a safe distance with 8 clearances. With 51 passes completed, most of which were in the attacking third, he was one of the most incisive players for the visitors on the day and looks to be one of Sheringham’s favourites in the side.

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