The Juggernauts nearly produced a comeback but fell a goal short.

Odisha FC fans were left red-faced by Hyderabad FC, after the Nizams came from behind to beat the Kino Sanchez-managed side. The 2-3 win gives the Nizams a three-point lead over Kerala Blasters at the top of the table, while the Juggernauts saw their already slim chances of making the playoffs get even more feeble.

Jerry Mawihmingthanga gave Odisha FC the lead in the closing minutes of the first half through a tap-in. However, the Nizams fought back through goals from Joel Chianese, Joao Victor and Akash Mishra in quick succession. The Juggernauts’ Brazilian forward Jonathas de Jesus scored a consolatory goal for his side.

Kino Sanchez met with the media to discuss his team’s performance in the post-game press conference.

Odisha FC deserved a point

Odisha FC kept things tight in the first half. They frustrated Hyderabad FC to the point that their players started shooting from positions they were never going to score from. However, the second half was a different story altogether. The Kalinga Warriors threw away the game, as the Nizams took all the chances they got to seal the top spot for themselves.

“I think we deserved at least a draw. I think that both teams played well. We were unlucky to receive two fast goals in the second half. We were having good options. Nanda (Nandhakumar Sekar), I think, had a clear option after Javi (Hernandez) hit the post. We could have made 2-0. Suddenly we receive the goals. Then we come back and score the second goal. But, we didn’t have enough time to draw the game. I think it will be fair that both teams deserved at least a draw,” Kino Sanchez opined.

The mistakes in second half

Sanchez’s men were defensively brilliant in the first half. However, the second half’s slip-ups against the best attacking side in the Indian Super League cost the Juggernauts the match.

“Sometimes, football is not only about creating chances, it’s also about not receiving so many. In the first half, we made some mistakes. Because of those mistakes, we conceded chances for the Hyderabad forwards. But, we are working on these kinds of games. In the second half, we were better. We didn’t receive many chances and they scored from the chances they had. For us, we were playing against one of the best teams of the Indian Super League. I think we are at the same level,” the interim head coach of Odisha FC explained.

Jonathas de Jesus’ comeback

Jonathas has been struggling with his fitness. The Brazilian’s absence has forced coach Kino Sanchez to play Javi Hernandez as a false nine. The striker showed everyone what he is capable of when fully fit, in the limited minutes he had on the pitch in the second half, as the Brazilian scored a screamer from a Redeem Tlang pass. Kino Sanchez is happy to have him available for the upcoming games.

“Of course, we wanted to have Jonathas from the beginning of the match. But, we have to think of his health issues. So, of course, if I could put him on in the starting minute, I would. We have to take care of our players and I think we did well. We told before the match that he will play 20-25 minutes and he did well. Its better having him on board for the next match,” Sanchez expressed.

Redeem Tlang’s performance

Redeem Tlang was brought into the game in the second half, at the expense of Isaac Vanmalsawma. The former NorthEast United player didn’t let his head coach down, as he provided the assist for Jonathas’ goal. However, minutes have been hard to come Tlang’s way, as his appearances have mostly been from the bench.

When questioned about his role in the team, Kino Sanchez answered, “I think he did well. We gave him minutes and he assisted Jonathas for the second goal. He tried to work hard. Of course, he needs to adapt to what we want from him. The role will depend on how he works and performs in training. Then the staff will make a decision about how many minutes he plays.”

The competition for goalkeeper’s spot in starting lineup

Odisha FC have an array of Indian goalkeepers. Arshdeep Singh (the current first-choice keeper), Kamaljit Singh (the former first-choice keeper), Ravi Kumar and the newly-acquired Antonio D’Silva complete the list of the Juggernauts’ goalkeepers. While Kamaljit may have lost his spot to Arshdeep owing to an injury and the latter’s good performances in training, it is still an open race for the goalkeeper’s spot.

“Sometimes, it is about the performance. Kamaljit was playing really well in the first part of the league and then he felt issues. Then Arshdeep started performing well. It will depend on the performances in training. It’s not about that I can tell you one keeper or the other will play the seven matches that we will have. We will see depending on the training sessions,” Sanchez quipped.

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