For us, it's all or nothing: Odisha FC's Josep Gombau
Odisha FC head coach Josep Gombau highlighted the team's hunger and desire in order to get the result in the match against Jamshedpur FC in the opening fixture of Matchweek 22 in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar on Wednesday.
Both teams are coming into the fixture with victories in their respective last matches. Odisha FC needs one more point to guarantee their top-six finish as they sit in sixth place with 30 points in 19 matches. and the Red Miners would be looking to make it three victories in the last four matches of the league.
The Juggernauts are standing on the verge of making history by qualifying for the playoffs for the first time in the club's history. Gombau shed light on the importance of the fixture and acknowledged the good run of form of the opponents.
"Wednesday is a very important game. Throughout the season our approach has been game-by-game. It's a game where if we get a good result then we can qualify for the playoffs. Our aim is to play the last game of the season at home and get the three points and after that, we'll see what happens with the other results over the weekend. We have all the respect for Jamshedpur FC, a very good team, they won the League Shield last season and they are doing quite well since three-four games and they're getting the results. We know it won't be an easy game but we have the hunger, we want to qualify for the playoffs for the first time in Odisha FC's history," Gombau said in the pre-match conference.
In the reverse fixture, the Juggernauts made an amazing comeback to snatch three points from Aidy Boothroyd's team with a 2-3 scorline. Gombau expressed how he doesn't want the repeat of the last fixture and hopes to be on the front foot from the first whistle.
"Every game is different and I hope that we don't have that (the reverse fixture) kind of game. We were two goals down in the first 10 minutes and made a comeback in injury time to win the match. We need to start the game strongly and we need to show that we're the team that needs to win because for us the win is very important and I expect we go for the game from the first minute. Every single game is different but with this hunger and concentration, we need to get the result on Wednesday in front of our fans. We expect a lot of supporters to come to the stadium and it'll make our jobs easier. The players are training and everybody is ready," he said.
The Men of Steel have had a better second half of the season, claiming three out of a total of four victories in the second leg of matches. Boothroyd's men have managed to gather seven points out of a possible nine in the last three games. Gombau talked about Jamshedpur FC having a better second of the season and how
"Not only the result against Hyderabad FC but against East Bengal FC, they also drew against ATK Mohun Bagan at home. Against Mumbai City FC as well they were leading the game till the 80th minute and this shows that Jamshedpur FC have improved a lot in the second half of the season and I expect a team that's doing well. For us, Wedneday is like a final, knowing that they are doing well and we are doing well as well. We cannot miss this opportunity, knowing in the 90 minutes we have time for everything. We will go for the win because we want the three points but also be careful of not making mistakes," Gombau stated.
Odisha FC announced the contract extension of skipper Carlos Delgado till 2024. The Spanish defender joined the Kalinga Warriors in 2019-20 and has been a crucial part of the team on and off the pitch. Gombau was delighted with Delgado's contract extension and he has been a key player for the team in the current season.
"It's very good news, Carlos (Delgado) is our captain, he's a person who deserves this contract. He's committed to the team and it's also good for the team to have this continuity of having the same players from one year to the next year, to build this project. Carlos has been our key player this season and it'll help us a lot," he added.
Lalthuammawia Ralte accompanied Gombau in the pre-match press conference. Ralte has been the second-choice goalkeeper for the Juggernauts with Amrinder Singh guarding the posts. Ralte shed light on how the players are ready to give their all and he believes the team can win against Jamshedpur FC.
"For Wednesday's game, we've been training all week. From the coaches' side, what they will do would be different. For us, as players, we need to give it all. We need to be careful to not make silly mistakes and to be committed to getting the results. We need to perform according to our coach's plan and we can win tomorrow," Ralte said in the pre-match press conference.
The 30-year-old has been a part of numerous clubs throughout his Hero ISL journey. He joined the Kalinga Warriors at the beginning of the 2022-23 season and the goalkeeper talked about his time in the club, and the young Indian players in the team and had a message for the fans.
"For me, I've adapted with other players, we make a good bunch of teammates because in training, we do very well Whatever our coaches ask us to do, we give our hundred per cent and now I believe, we are prepared for everything. The young players in our squad are very talented and good. The team's morale is good now and we are together, we want to achieve something and it's in our hands. I would request the fans to please come and support us, tomorrow we all can achieve something together," Ralte concluded.