The Odisha FC boss spoke briefly regarding the young players in his team.

After a 0-3 drubbing against FC Goa, Odisha FC are looking to make a comeback against Jamshedpur FC, as the Kalinga Stadium welcomes the Indian Super League for the first time this season. Before the game, head coach Josep Gombau interacted with the media in the pre-match press conference on Thursday.

To begin proceedings, the Spaniard was quizzed about whether Odisha FC have any chances of qualifying for the playoffs.

“For sure there is a chance. We have played nine games away and we are excited to play our first game here. We play three games here at home and it will be very crucial and a lot will depend on them, whether we will qualify for the playoffs or not,” Josep Gombau said.

“We are working very hard and though we are very excited. we need to keep working hard, as we come back home and play in front of our people. The problem of travelling is not there for now, as we have travelled a lot. Of course, there is a chance, we have nine points and the gap is only of four points. Jamshedpur have 13 points and if we win tomorrow we are only one point behind them,” he added.

Odisha FC have played well in patches and have shown authority in their passing football, but they have not reflected that on the scoresheet. Josep Gombau feels it will come with time and playing at home in front of their fans will add that extra motivation. 

“Every game is different. I am satisfied with the players. They are playing very well and working hard. We have played all away games till now, we have not got the support till now and the fans are crucial. I think the team is doing quite well and I am confident we can do well in these three games and move forward in the table,” Josep Gombau said.

Thoughts On Shubham Sarangi

One the young players who has caught the eye this season has to be Shubham Sarangi and the Spanish tactician lauded the youngster. “Shubham is a great young player. We are a club working on a lot of young talents. Shubham is a player who has already made an impact playing these nine games and he is doing well,” the 43-year-old remarked.

“He is a player who always wants to work hard and I hope he will continue the good work. I hope he will be one the best right-backs in India and also hope that he will lead India in future,” the Odisha FC head coach added.

On Conceding Late In Games

Josep Gombau also spoke on Odisha FC’s tendency of conceding goals late in the game. “For me, a team starts from the goalkeeper and finishes with the striker and vice-verse, when we have or don’t have the ball. It’s true that we conceded last-minute goals. But, it came through individual mistakes and it happens in football, as we have a lot of young players,” he quipped.

“We are a team with an attacking mentality and for me as a coach, I have the responsibility to make it worthwhile for the fans,” he added.

Josep Gombau was elated with his young players and their progress, as he pointed out some names from the bunch. 

Thoughts On Other Young Players

“I am very happy with the young players and we play most of the matches with five or more U-23 players. We have Arshdeep Singh who is only 21-years-old, we have Jerry (Mawihmingthanga) who is doing really well. We have Shubham and we have (Gaurav) Bora who was under a process and last week he made his debut and played really well,” the Spaniard answered.

“Daniel (Lalhlimpuia), Nandhakumar (Sekar), (Seiminmang) Manchong are also young and I am happy with them. Shubham is the player who is having the main impact because he is young and he is performing and keeping his place in the side. But, overall, I am very happy with the progress. 

“I don’t think any other team plays so many young talents in their starting lineup. We are the youngest squad in the ISL and these numbers ISL provides to us. Of course, to start, the player needs to be ready and as a coach, I won’t put a player in the team who isn’t ready,” he added.

The Odisha FC boss also shared his views on the ISL’s impact in improving football in India, on which he pointed out the positives and highlighted the differences from the first season to this one. 

“I think the ISL is growing. I have followed the league from the start as I was living in Australia and I had a few friends who came here to play. Started with eight teams, now with 10 teams and longer schedule. The good thing is upholding so many talented players which earlier was difficult,” Josep Gombau quipped.

“We were speaking about Shubham and also about the other young players. The first season was not like this, there were players with experience, but not quality. I see the football growing with the start of a lot of academies. These kids will be more prepared in future. In terms of football, I think the next 10 years India will be stronger in football than now.”

Team News

Josep Gombau has a fully fit squad to face Jamshedpur FC. However, he will have to be very mindful while selecting the starting XI, considering the defensive frailties they had in the last game. Vinit Rai has returned from suspension and may start this game.

Probable Lineup

Arshdeep , Sarangi, Diagne, Delgado, Das; Vinit, Tebar; Jerry, Xisco, Nandhakumar; Santana. 

Head-To-Head

Both sides have met five times in the Indian Super League, with the Men of Steel bagging four wins and the other fixture ending in a draw. So, this will be an opportunity for Odisha to open their account against Jamshedpur.

Broadcast

The game will commence from 7:30 PM IST on Friday and will be telecast live on Star Sports 1 and Star Sports 1 HD. It will also be available to stream on Hotstar and Jio TV.