The best moments from Josep Gombau’s stint with Odisha FC in Hero ISL 2022-23
Head coach Josep Gombau and Hero Indian Super League (ISL) club Odisha FC have parted ways for the second time.
Gombau was previously in charge of Odisha FC during the 2019-20 season, which was the first Hero ISL campaign for the Bhubaneswar-based club. The Spaniard left the club at the end of that season.
Gombau rejoined Odisha FC ahead of the 2022-23 season and led them to a sixth-place finish in the ongoing league season. They finished the league with 30 points from 20 games including nine wins. But Juggernauts saw their campaign come to an end after a defeat to ATK Mohun Bagan in the knockouts.
There have been many key moments for Gombau and Odisha FC in what has been a memorable season.
Here’s a look at the best ones:
An epic comeback in Jamshedpur
Just 10 minutes into their opening game of the season, Odisha FC were staring at a drubbing. The Juggernauts found themselves 0-2 down against Jamshedpur FC after two early goals from the home side.
But they pulled one back soon, trailing 1-2 at half-time. Odisha FC dominated the proceeding in the second half, but couldn’t find a goal despite all their efforts. But they didn’t give up, and fired two late goals at the death in the 88th and 90th minute respectively, snatching a win from the jaws of defeat.
The home crowd at the JRD Tata Sports Complex were left stunned as Odisha FC opened their account for the season in dramatic fashion.
A thrilling comeback win in Kolkata
Odisha FC travelled to Kolkata for their third away game of the season, with a clash up against East Bengal FC. The home side quickly raced to a 2-0 lead and finished the first half with a two-goal advantage. At that point, things looked bleak for Odisha FC.
But at half-time, Gombau surprisingly made four bold substitutions and it changed the tide of the game. Odisha FC put four goals past East Bengal FC, with three of his substitutes being involved among the goals.
It was the third straight time that Odisha FC ended up winning the game after conceding first.
A gritty victory against Hyderabad FC
In what was an important game to stay alive in the race for the playoffs, Odisha FC needed to defeat Hyderabad FC at home. Meanwhile, Hyderabad FC, having already qualified for the playoffs, were searching for a win to keep the pressure on Mumbai City FC at the top.
Odisha FC took the lead, but conceded at the stroke of half-time with the scores locked at 1-1 going into the break. The second half turned out to be a cagey affair, with both defences holding firm. OFC were searching for a moment of luck and it finally arrived.
The home side regained their lead with a scrappy goal. With momentum on their side, Diego Mauricio added another one for Odisha FC at the death, sealing a hard-fought victory for Gombau’s side.
Qualifying for their first-ever Hero ISL playoffs
The biggest highlight of Gombau’s tenure at Odisha FC was leading the club to the Hero ISL playoffs for the first time. Having being previously in charge of Odisha FC during the 2019-20 season, Gombau guided Odisha FC to a sixth-place finish that season. The Spaniard parted ways with the club at the end of the season and for the next two campaigns, the Kalinga Warriors finished 11th and seventh respectively in the Hero ISL standings.
Gombau returned to Odisha FC ahead of the 2022-23 season with unfinished business and an aim to help the club qualify for the playoffs. The Juggernauts suffered eight defeats throughout the course of the campaign, but managed to sneak into the top six thanks to a strong start to the season and a dominant win record at home.
A defeat to ATK Mohun Bagan in the Hero ISL playoffs may have brought down the curtains on their season, but it was a remarkable one for Gombau and Odisha FC.