This will the Juggernauts’ interim head coach’s first game in-charge following Stuart Baxter’s sacking earlier this week.

On Saturday, Odisha FC will take on ATK Mohun Bagan at the Tilak Maidan in Vasco, Goa, in what would be their 15th game of the ongoing 2020-21 Indian Super League (ISL) season. The game is very important for the second-placed Mariners, as they are chasing the top spot on the points table. Meanwhile, Odisha will try to regroup after some off-field controversies brought the attention of foreign media towards the club. On Friday, interim head coach Gerry Peyton spoke to the media ahead of their upcoming game.

Mood after Stuart Baxter sacking

Odisha FC head coach Stuart Baxter was sacked after his inappropriate comment during the post-match interview following the loss against Jamshedpur FC. However, Peyton believes that the sacking of Baxter has brought everyone together.

“I have been very lucky that we’ve done a few meetings where everyone connected. It bought us together – all the senior players and all the Indian players are getting together. In the last six games, we are going to show some positive attitude and determination to win as many matches as possible,” he said.

Keeping players motivated

Odisha FC are going through tough times both on and off the field and it is a challenge to keep everyone motivated in these tough times.

“It is easy to keep everyone motivated. My work now is to continue that work until the end of February and show everybody. (Almost) all the games we’ve played, there was a missing fraction of one goal and we are working on finding a combination that goes on and wins the game. I’m sure we are going to find that combination,” Peyton explained.

Discussions with management

The former Arsenal goalkeeping coach was appointed at the helm of the Juggernauts on an interim basis and he was asked how the discussions with the management went before taking over. He replied, “We talked about the way we played. I think it is important to concentrate on what we want to do.

He further added, “I think Stuart and I put a very good structure in and I want to keep that structure. I want to put more quality into our passing, our ball accuracy, ball speed, joining the ball, supporting the ball when we get in good areas and more purpose and commitment going into the box.”

Steven Taylor’s absence

Odisha FC’s most experienced player and captain Steven Taylor will miss the game after receiving his fourth yellow card of the season against Jamshedpur. Peyton reckons it is a big loss, as he said, “Steven has been fantastic all season.

“I looked at our last game against ATK Mohun Bagan, where we lost it in last 30 seconds of the game with the free-kick that went into the side of the box, which Roy Krishna scored. Without any doubt, we will be into this game too. I want to go there with the boys, with a positive attitude to win the game.”

Assessment of ATKMB squad

Gerry Peyton was also asked to assess the ATKMB squad. “I think they are a very good team. I think they play to their strengths. They have good players,” the tactician said.

“When you look at their No. 6 on the left-hand side, (Sandesh) Jhinghan looks very solid at the back. Tiri also looks very solid as a player, loves diagonal balls and they will look to come down on their flanks. They will look into it and they’re very strong in the air, so we know what to expect.”

Message to fans

Gerry Peyton also had a message for the Juggernaut faithfuls. “Everybody would be very positive. Speaking to all the senior players and the Indians players, we are positive that we can do well in the remaining six games,” the Englishman signed off.

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