Both Odisha FC and Chennaiyin FC are looking for a playoff berth.

After losing two back-to-back games in their recent outings, Odisha FC will take on the pitch against Chennaiyin FC at Chennai on Thursday. The side will be eyeing to get back to winning ways against a shoddy Chennaiyin. A win is essential for Odisha at this moment to get back into the top six in Indian Super League (ISL) and ease some pressure that the side is facing from Bengaluru FC. While at the same time, Chennaiyin FC will also be desperate to win the game and keep their top-six hope alive.

Prior to the match, Odisha FC head coach Josep Gombau addressed presspersons. Edited excerpts from the presser are as follows.

On the team’s attitude

Josep Gombau talked about his team’s mentality and how the team is feeling going into Thursday’s game. He said, “I think this is the moment to be very competitive and have a strong mentality. Now it is all or nothing for this season. We have five games left and we need to be consistent in these five games. We are all focused on this and all of us want to be in the top six and play in the playoffs. I think it is important for every single player and coaching staff of the team. We are aware of the importance of this season and we will take responsibility. We will work very hard to achieve a playoff position.”

The head coach added, “It is true that in the last few weeks, we did not get the desired results. But it does not mean that the team is not working hard or playing well. It is football, sometimes the result goes for you and sometimes it does not go. But now we are in this moment where we cannot miss anything. With our position, everything is in our hands. We are not dependent on the results of other teams. It is the moment to go to Chennai, have a good game, and get a good result. It is the moment for us to go game-by-game. I see the boys are very hungry and highly concentrated on Thursday’s game.”

On not being able to get good results in the last few games

Josep Gombau gave reasons for his side’s inability to get good results from the last few games. He praised the teams against whom Odisha lost points in the previous few games.

“The opposition team also plays. The last two that we did not win were games against two big teams away. It is true that Bengaluru was not having a good time but they have a very good squad. We lost our way against Bengaluru and ATK Mohun Bagan. Of course, we did not play our best football, but the opposing teams also played very good football in both of these games. I don’t see we had a very poor performance in any game. It is not that in any game the attitude of the players was not good. I saw everybody fighting.”

The Spaniard continued, “It is true that we did mistakes that punished us. Loss of concentration in some actions or bad decisions in some other actions and a lack of accuracy in the final third were seen in some games. But I am happy with the attitude of the players and their hunger.”

On the team not able to continue the initial momentum

Josep Gombau expressed his reasoning behind his team not being able to continue the initial good form. He said, “It is football. In football, you have momentum. We had good momentum in the very beginning. (Odisha FC) were not a superb team when we were winning all the games. We are not a bad team that we are struggling now. Sometimes, small details change a game. The moments initially came for our side, which are not coming now. We have to work hard to make this change. Now is the moment in the season where we need to prove we are a playoff team. If we don’t do it, it will be because we don’t deserve it.”

Coach’s evaluation of Chennaiyin FC

The head coach shared his thoughts on Chennaiyin FC and the condition in which the side finds themselves. He said that expects Thursday’s game to be very equal.

“I think it will be a very equal game. It will be difficult as they are also fighting for a playoff spot. For them, tomorrow’s game is all or nothing. For them, if they don’t win, it will be almost done because then there will be only four games to go. Both teams are coming into the match on the back of poor results at the weekend. Both teams want to be in the playoffs. Normally, when you play these kinds of games, you can see a lot of respect from both sides. It will be a very equal game. The team who will be able to handle pressure well or will have a fresh mind will have more to say. It is a moment for the players to step up and show that they are ready to deal with such a kind of situation.”

On the team’s approach in facing Chennaiyin FC

Josep Gombau said that his team will play on Thursday in the manner in which the team has been playing all season long. He emphasised the importance of playing in a particular manner for getting good results. He said, “We are a team that has our own way of playing football. We will play in the manner we play always. I think it is important for a team to not change the system. It is good to have your own mentality and style. Sometimes, when the results don’t come, we start to change things. I think that is very wrong. As a coach, I believe in a certain style of playing football. It is also the style that the players know very well. We will approach the game like we approach every single game.”

Message to the fans

Lastly, the head coach gave a message to the fans. He urged them to throng the Kalinga Stadium for Odisha’s last three home games.

“We are all united, we are together, and we will work hard until the last minute. We also have a message for the fans, we want to see them here next Monday and next Friday. The remaining three games at home are very important. When you play away, sometimes you struggle to get a result. We have a very good record at home. We need them, the fans. In the last three games, if they support us, we can win the playoff spot.”

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