The poor quality of the JRD Tata Sports Complex pitch has been raised as a serious talking point this week in the Hero ISL.
Jamshedpur Head Coach Steve Coppell has openly expressed his concern over the state of the playing surface, fearing that his players could suffer more injuries like the one that has ruled ATK midfielder Eugeneson Lyngdoh out for the remainder of the season.
“You’re always concerned (about injuries) when the surface becomes a factor. The surface shouldn’t be a factor when it comes to the safety of the players. You could easily twist an ankle or a knee. I know Eygeneson (Lyngdoh) got injured. I hope that wasn’t pitch-related.
“It made playing football very very difficult (against ATK). You pass the ball without knowing that your standing foot will be cemented and firm,” said the English coach.
ATK boss Teddy Sheringham said after the game that Lyngdoh had got a knock on the knee and blamed the state of the pitch.
The injury is further bad news for Sheringham who is having a tough start to life in India. Main man Robbie Keane has been injured, there are reports that Teddy and Ashley Westwood are not talking to each other and ATK are yet to win. With Lyngdoh being such a key player, it looks like the troubles in Kolkata could go on a while longer.
Coppell was quick to deflect the blame from the stadium groundstaff.
“I’ve been informed that there’s a good root growth, and its just a matter of time before the pitch binds better,” he said. “The ground staff worked hard to prepare the brand new pitch. We had hoped that it would be a good surface, but obviously, it didn’t turn out that way”.
Jamshedpur FC are likely to play two league matches in Odisha’s Kalinga Stadium in February next year, but that does not solve the immediate issue.
It’s not only Jamshedpur’s ground that is being called into question. For entirely different reasons, the Karnataka High Court has questioned the Karnataka State Government for using Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru for football activities. The Kanteerava Stadium was initially built for athletics and the athletes have filed a petition claiming their training is now being disrupted as a result of football taking priority. Bengaluru FC could also be looking for a new home in the not to distant future.