The Odisha FC head coach also shed light on the possible transfer activities in January.

Odisha FC will begin the second half of their ISL 2022-23 campaign on Boxing Day (26th December) at Kochi against last year’s finalists Kerala Blasters. Both the teams are equally poised on the league table with 19 points from 10 games each. Kerala Blasters are ahead of Odisha by virtue of a superior goal difference. Against this backdrop, Odisha FC head coach Josep Gombau addressed the media.

He talked about a host of things related to the game and his team’s overall performance so far. Edited excerpts from the press conference are as follows.

Expectations of playing at Kochi

Kochi always witnesses a sold-out crowd whenever Kerala Blasters plays in their home turf. Hence, there is always an added pressure on the away side while playing at Kochi. In this regard, Gombau stated his feelings of playing at Kochi against Kerala Blasters and how he has been motivating his team for the game. He stated:

“It will be a very good game to play in Kochi against Kerala, which is a very good side. At the moment, we are equal on the table. I think we will play away in a nice environment. It is a place where every single player and every single coach wants to be. Also, the game is on a special day, i.e. the day after Christmas. I hope we can give a good present to all the fans and their family members and try to get a good result.”

On the strategy of playing against Kerala Blasters

Josep Gombau expressed his approach towards the game and how he is planning to tackle the Kerala Blasters challenge. He said:

“Look, every game is different. I believe we had a good game against ATK Mohun Bagan and we deserved to get three points. The first half of the game was very equal and in the second half, we had more chances. We should have got a better reward. Every game is different. We will go to Kerala with the same aim. For the game, we will not go to Kerala with the aim of sitting in the back and waiting for them to make a move. We are going to Kerala with our definite style of football and our definite style of approaching a game.”

The tactician added, “We also want to enjoy the game because these kinds of games are there for us to enjoy. I said to my players that if you are a footballer, you will like to play these kinds of games. I said them to just go there, enjoy, and try to get a good result.”

Overcoming goal-scoring drought

Odisha FC were not able to score in their last two outings, against FC Goa and ATK Mohun Bagan. On being asked whether this was a cause of worry for the side and how he is thinking about addressing the issue, the mentor said that as of now, it is not an issue to worry much about. He cited the reasons for his opinion:

“As a coach, if the team is not scoring and you are not creating enough chances, then you are worried. Against Goa, in the first half, we had many chances. In the last game too, we scored a goal but that was disallowed. Technically, it was a goal that was offside. We also created several other chances.”

“It is true that we are finishing this week. We are not missing this issue. It is also true that we could not score a goal in the last two games. But I do not think it is a problem that we have. I think we will be scoring soon,” he added.

Objectives for the second half of the campaign

Odisha FC have had a good start to the season. With the league halfway through, the side currently sits on the sixth place with 19 points. 26th’s game will mark the beginning of the second half of the club’s campaign. Josep Gombau shared the goals of the club for the second half of the campaign. He said:

“It is true that we started the season well. Now, at the halfway of the league, we are in a good position. We will continue to fight for qualifying for the playoffs and finishing in a good position on the table. But what we have done till now comes to nothing and the important part of the season will start tomorrow. I told my players that all that we have done so far will matter only if we do good from now on. This is our approach. We will go game by game. The game against Kerala is an important one, but so is the game against Mumbai.”

The head coach continued, “The team is training so hard. The intensity has been good. A lot of players are doing well, making it difficult for us to select the team line-up. A lot of players deserve to be in the first XI. As a coach, this is something very good. With the kind of performance my players are showing, I am confident that by the end of the season, we will be in a position that will take us to the playoffs. This is the main objective as a club that we had set for ourselves at the beginning of the season. After that, in the playoffs, anything can happen. The team in better shape at that particular moment can be the team that may win the league.”

Transfer activities in January

On being asked whether the club is looking to reinforce the side’s strength in the upcoming transfer window, Gombau said that he is happy with the current squad and might add one or two players in only some particular positions. He said:

“We are very happy with the players whom we have in our squad. We are not going to make any big changes in the transfer window. Maybe we are missing a bit of depth in some positions. So, maybe we can add one/two players to help us in particular positions. There is one position in which we have one player. We are missing the second player (for the position) even in training. Hence, we are working on this. We think the player that can come will help us to become a better team. So, we will like to bring the player. If not, we will remain how we are. What is for sure is that we are satisfied with the performance of the players.”

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