Gombau lauds his young squad’s performance against star-studded ATK

Odisha FC had to settle for a point against ATK in their first official home match of the Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2019-20 played at the Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex Stadium in Pune on Sunday. Josep Gombau's men seemed to have the better of the chances on the night but failed to make them count.

Speaking at the post-match press conference, the Odisha head coach was happy with his team’s performance but felt they deserved more from the game, “I think the team played well. As a coach, I wanted the three points. But I cannot be disappointed because I think that the way that the team played was good. They have followed the game plan throughout the competition. We missed maybe too many chances. I think a point is fair, but I think we controlled the game, had more of the ball and created more chances. I’m very happy with the team.”

One key element of the tie was Gombau’s decision to play Aridane Santana in a more withdrawn role than usual. “I think we played our game on the wings because that is the way we play. I think Aridane is playing exceptionally well as the lone striker. He is very involved in the team. Today he did not have a chance to score but he played quite well. I’m satisfied with his work,” the Spaniard said on the matter.

Starting the match with Xisco Hernandez on the bench was another surprising decision on Gombau’s part. Defending his team selection, the 43-year-old coach said, “Every game is different. We prepare differently and use different players. Xisco’s performance during the season has been quite good but today we decided to play with an Indian goalkeeper and protect him with two foreign central defenders. What we do depends on the opponent team and in this game Xisco was the player who was out of the equation, but I am satisfied with him.”

After losing their opening two matches, Odisha are now unbeaten in three. Asked if the team has finally settled in, the Spaniard said, “Honestly, all the five games we played quite well. We had many opportunities to win the games, even playing away against Jamshedpur and NorthEast. We lost both the games very late. I think that since the league started, we have played well. The first two might not have reflected the same but the next three games we have a win and two draws.”

“We are working hard. We have a good team, a young squad. So happy to see players like Jerry (Mawihmingthanga), Nandhakumar (Sekar), Shubham (Sarangi) and Arshdeep (Singh). This is our philosophy. ATK are a very good team who have a lot of star players. But I think that we were more dominant in terms of football than them and it is something that we should be proud about because they have more experience and we have many youngsters who are doing their work,” he added.

Read the Match Report here.

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