Antonio Iriondo has revealed that star midfielder Memo was injured during the pre-season and there was no other way he could have played the entire 90 minutes, on Tuesday, against Odisha FC. The Spaniard, however, lauded his team’s display despite going a man down to win the match 2-1.
Iriondo’s first eleven drew a few stares from the stands as it consisted of Aitor Monroy, Piti, and Noe Acosta. The new manager didn’t start with Memo, who has been playing a major role for the side in the last two seasons, and after they were a man down with the score reading 1-1, it seemed like a wrong decision.
However, Memo was introduced in the 46th minute to replace Acosta and the midfielder did have an impact in terms of bringing solidity at the back. Later, Iriondo explained his team selection. “Memo was injured during the pre-season so there was a lack of fitness. There was no way he could play 90 minutes,” said Iriondo in the post-match press-conference, reported ISL website.
Despite being the winning side in the end, JFC weren’t the domineering side in the match with new entrants Odisha FC controlling the game for a major chunk. However, Iriondo stated that they couldn’t have practice for every possible situation in training but the side would be needing to improve in all areas.
"We couldn’t have practised everything in the training sessions and we didn’t expect to play with one less player. After the red card, we tried to play with the ball on the ground, we played on the counter-attack, we created chances.
“We have to improve in all areas. The match was very competitive and anyone could have won. We have to keep working hard because what we are trying to achieve is not easy. It will take time. We will get better as the season progresses,” he added.
After Jamshedpur FC opened the scoring with a Rana Gharami own goal, Odisha FC equalized, moments after Bikash Jairu was sent off in the first half, through Aridane Santana. However, with numerous chances missed by both sides, it was a late Sergio Castel strike that did the job for the hosts and Iriondo heaped praise on them.
“The players did really well. We need to applaud them because despite going a man down, we controlled the game, which is very difficult. I want to express my gratitude to the players for their effort,” he said.