The Odisha FC boss also shared his opinion on the Chennaiyin FC team.

Odisha FC will play their third home game of the season on Thursday against Chennaiyin FC. Odisha’s previous encounter in Kolkata against East Bengal saw them register a commanding comeback win over the Red & Golds, whereby Josep Gombau’s side overcame a 2-0 deficit to win 4-2.

Chennaiyin FC also found a win in their last game against Jamshedpur FC at Chennai. It was a good win for the side where they scored twice late in the game to win 3-1. Both teams will be keen to continue their momentum and extend their winning run. One day prior to the game, Odisha FC head coach Josep Gombau and defender Narender Gahlot addressed the pre-match press conference.

Edited excerpts from the press conference are as follows.

On the team’s mood after an inspiring win against East Bengal

Odisha FC’s comeback win over East Bengal is still the talk of the town among football pundits in India. On being asked about how the result has impacted the team, Gombau said that his team’s mentality is very positive now. He also believes that the upcoming gameweek is going to be very important in the context of the league. He said:

“We are excited to play tomorrow here in front of fans. It is an important game. As everyone can see, it is going to be a tough week with a lot of teams involved in the race for the top-five positions. Every single team can beat the other team. I think tomorrow will be a very important game, a top-five game. I have asked my players to concentrate and to avoid simple mistakes. The most important thing for us is to put in a team effort and try to win.”

Coach’s take on Chennaiyin FC

Gombau expressed his opinion on the quality of Chennaiyin FC’s squad. He praised their playing style and the work of Chennaiyin’s coach. He stated:

“In every single game, we have our own way of playing the game. Depending on the opposition team we adjust our ways of attack and how we press. We prepare in this manner for every single game and we will do the same (against Chennaiyin FC). Chennaiyin is a very good squad with a very good coach. It will be difficult. We had played a friendly game just before the beginning of the season, which, for us, was a difficult game. This time, we will try to beat them.”

The tactician added, “I think it will be a very good game. They have their own unique way of playing. We will play as we have always played. We have our own plans to minimize what they have been doing very well. Also, we will try to take advantage of the things that I think we can handle.”

On the advantages of playing at home

Josep Gombau said why he feels comfortable playing at home. He stated that fans shouting in the stands provide an extra impetus for the players to perform well. He quoted:

“For sure, playing at home is an advantage. For that reason, we have home and away games. We feel comfortable here. We are happy to play here in front of our fans. The fans always bring you extra power. For instance, if you are tired, people cheering in the stands help you. You take the power from them and do your job. I think this is a fact that playing at home is very good. I hope we can win tomorrow.”

On being called the ‘Comeback King’

Certain sections of the Indian football fraternity have began calling Odisha FC the ‘Comeback King’. On being asked whether he likes such a nickname, Gombau asserted that the most important thing for his side is to win games. He asserted:

“The most important thing is to win games. We are winning the games. We would like to start well, score first, and have some stability. It is true that we started some games a little bit sloppily and conceded goals. But after that, we showed a strong mentality to come back and win three times, against Kerala also here at home. For me, how the game finishes is more important, not how the game starts. Tomorrow, we will try to start the game strongly and take a lead.”

On the strong character shown by Odisha FC

Odisha FC have made three comeback wins so far this season. This is a very commendable thing for any club. On this, Gombau said that the credits go to his player. He commented:

“The coaches do their job but the players are the people playing. Their decisions impact a game. For example, last week, at half time, the gist of my speech was that we are a good team and we can do better. We can beat the opposition team. We just need to relax, try to do the job well, and take better decisions on the field. As we were 2-0 down, I asked them to put pressure on them (East Bengal) and go for the game.”

He continued, “But it’s more about the mentality that the boys have. In this league, we are not a worse team than the other teams. We are neither much better than the others. It is an equal league. Our team always plays with a good attitude. I am very happy to see that they (Odisha FC players) show such strong mentality in many of the games.”

Narender Gahlot on his experience of playing under Gombau

Narender talked about his experience of playing under Josep Gombau. He said that it has been an enriching experience for him. He stated:

“As of now, I have learnt a lot from the coach. Right from our preseason and the Durand Cup, I have learnt a lot from him on the ground and off the field as well. I am really happy to train under him and I will give my 100 per cent in every game.”

Experience of playing at the Kalinga Stadium

Narender also mentioned how it feels to play at the Kalinga Stadium in front of the fans. He stated:

“I am having a really good experience in this stadium because for one season, I played in the I-League here for Indian Arrows. Right now, the fans are really good here. They support us for 95 minutes. The overall experience is very good.”

On pitching in multiple roles for the club so far

Narender told that he is ready to play wherever the coach deems him fit to play. He also said that playing at different positions is expanding his learning curve. He said:

“It depends on the coach. I am glad that he trusts me as a centre-back as well as a right-back. I am really happy to give my 100 per cent playing in any position.”

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