The Odisha FC boss also provided reasons for his team signing Princeton Rebello.

In what can be termed as a mini-knockout for the playoffs, Odisha FC will host FC Goa at the Kalinga Stadium on Monday. The teams respectively occupy the sixth and fifth places on the points table. Hence, Monday’s game is of paramount importance for both sides. It can be a season-defining game for the sides as both will strive to get three points to keep their top six ambition in their own hands. A day prior to the game, Odisha FC head coach Josep Gombau addressed the pre-match press conference.

Edited excerpts from the conference are as follows.

Coach’s thoughts on Monday’s game

Josep Gombau expressed his thoughts on Monday’s game. He said, “First of all, I think Monday’s game is a very important game. We are playing at home against a team that is just above us on the table. It is true that they have won the last two games. But tomorrow’s game is like a final. To finish in a playoff position, it is important that we get a good result here at home. It is also very important for Goa. If we get a result, we will have the same number of points (with Goa) with three more games remaining.”

The head coach further said, “We are in a position where we wanted to be at the beginning of the season. When I came to the club, this was what I was thinking to do in my first year on the project. We are trying to be in the playoffs, and that is what we are doing. Now is the moment to approach game-by-game. It is the moment to fight for every single ball. I would ask the fans to come to every match here at home and support us as it is very important (for a football club). I believe together we can do a very good job and be among the top six at the end of the season.”

Why did Odisha sign Princeton Rebello?

Odisha FC recently signed a promising young midfielder Princeton Rebello. The youngster joined the club on a deal that will keep him at the club until 2024. On being asked the reason behind his signing, Gombau said, “Princeton is an important addition to us. He is a player whom we signed thinking about the future. We think he can be very good for the side. He fits well with the style in which we play. For that reason, we have signed him. He will also be available to play tomorrow.”

On FC Goa’s playing style

Josep Gombau evaluated the playing style of FC Goa. He heaped a lot of praise on the Gaurs and stated that they have a very good squad.

“Goa is doing very well. They have a good squad and they are playing good football. The last time we met them, it was a game the first of which totally belonged to us. We were unlucky to not have scored a goal and after that Saul’s injury and Nandha’s red card changed the whole game. Now tomorrow will be a new game. It is like a final. If you want to continue, you will have to get a result (true for both sides). It will be an equal game. The good thing is that we have a strong mentality and a lot of players are ready. Everybody is pushing to be in the first XI. So, I think we can do a good job.”

Why are teams struggling away from home?

The Spaniard gave his reasoning on why many teams, including Odisha FC, are struggling to get wins in away games. He said, “I think the league is very equal. This means that small details help you to win games. Playing at home is an advantage. Teams get better results at home than playing away. If you go to Kerala, it is difficult to play there. And if you come here, it is difficult to play here. The results that we get here are good because the players feel confident as we get the extra help of the people who come to the stadium. Sometimes, when you are tired and people start helping you, you get a kind of power from nowhere to make that run, defend that ball, and ensure that you win the game.”

On the importance of Monday’s game

Josep Gombau talked about how important Monday’s game is for Odisha FC to finish in the top six. He further said that all four of their games are equally important in this regard.

“We have four games and all four of them are very important. To qualify, we will need at least seven points from these four games. It does not matter how you get these seven points. Tomorrow I think it will be a special game as we will play against a team which is also fighting with us to get this spot among the top six. This makes it an even more important game. At the same time, all four games are very important.”

Any special plans for tackling FC Goa?

The 46-year-old coach stated that Odisha will play their own style of football to tackle the Gaurs and make tweaks in the smaller details. He said, “We have our own style of playing which involves pressing high and having the ball. This is the football style that we want to build at the club. Depending on the opposition team you face, you change the small details.”

Gombau asserted that fighting for the same spot with a club like FC Goa is a symbol that Odisha FC is doing good in this year’s season. He stated, “Goa is a powerhouse of football. It is a state where people love football and the Goan teams are very good. This shows that we are in a good way because being a club very young, we are fighting for the same spot. We are not far away from them. If we win tomorrow we will have the same points. This means that what we are doing in Odisha is very good.”

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