Gombau: Coming to Kerala brings with it an extra motivation to win

Odisha FC take on Kerala Blasters FC at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi on Friday. Odisha will be on the lookout for back-to-back away wins in Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2019-20, after beating Mumbai City FC in their own backyard in their last outing. 

At the pre-match press conference, Odisha FC’s head coach Josep Gombau spoke about his team’s performances so far and the preparations for the upcoming match. “We have played all the three games quite well. In the first game we were a little nervous, maybe because we were playing with many young players. Last week in Mumbai, it was a very good game from our side, and we come here with confidence. We have prepared for the game against Kerala Blasters well. We had enough time to prepare for the game and we have come here to try and win,” Gombau said. 

On their run of consecutive away games since the start of the season, the Odisha boss said, “Every team likes to play at home in front of their fans. But we’re playing a lot of games away and for us to come here and play is something nice. Coming here brings with it an extra motivation to win away in front of all the fans. I think here in India, all the fans and supporters are very respectful. When you play away, you like the environment... We come with a strong mentality. We will try to play a good game and win.” 

Odisha have found the back of the net six times this season and Gombau credited his youngsters for his side’s vibrant brand of play. “I think we are now in a new city and a new club. This season, we’ve played three games and scored six goals. We are doing quite well. We have quite a few young talents from India like Shubham (Sarangi), we have Nandhakumar (Sekar), Vinit Rai and Jerry Mawihmingthanga. We’re playing with a lot of young players who want to make an impact in their career. We have a strong mentality, and we are completely sure that we can get the three points,” he said. 

Kerala’s biggest problem this season has been their fragile defence, made even more dire with an injury to Sandesh Jhingan, ruling him out for the season. However, Gombau didn’t view Jhingan’s absence as an advantage for his team. “For me, I want to play against a team that has all their players. It’s not like me as a coach to be happy when my opponent’s players get injured. It’s true that I want to win against a team which has all their players. But I am sure that the players who play for Kerala will give us good competition. It’s because of their qualities that they are here in this team. They will give their 100%. For me, football is a team game and my team worries about how to play against the opponent rather than any of their players that are not available.” 

Joining the Odisha head coach was young full-back Shubham Sarangi, who has performed well for his side in what has been a new position for him. “I have been playing as a right back since the pre-season and would like to thank the coach for having faith in me and playing me as a right back. I have been learning new things in every match and I will try to give my best in every match and play in whichever position the coach wants me to play. It’s a new position for me and I will try to learn as much as possible,” he said. 

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