Josep Gombau: We are missing players but have confidence on the squad

Odisha FC face FC Goa in the Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2019-20 at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar on Wednesday. Odisha will look to continue their hot streak at home after winning their last three games at the venue but will be without talisman Aridane Santana, who has been ruled out for the season after an injury. The team will also be missing Carlos Delgado and Shubham Sarangi due to suspensions, while Marcos Tebar and Nandhakumar Sekar are nursing knocks and are likely to miss out.

At the pre-match press conference, Odisha head coach Josep Gombau spoke about their upcoming challenge and said, “Goa lost their last two away games. We are preparing for this game. It’s true that we are missing players, but we are a team. Every single player in the squad can play if called upon. I am only thinking about the players we have. We have a good plan for the game, and we are confident about it. Goa is one of the best teams in the league. Every single game we play, we have our own style. Depending on the opponent, we change a few things.”

Adding to this, he said, “For this game, we will miss a lot of important players, but I think that we are approaching the game well. We have a lot of players who are working hard. I hope they play well. It will be a very competitive game, and our confidence is high. I think that when we play at home, it is our game. We need to keep winning at the Kalinga Stadium. Playing and winning at home is very important.”            

Talking about his team’s top four prospects, Gombau opined, “For us, we have four games to finish the league. We want to approach this game by game. I think that if we win at least two of these games, we have a chance to qualify for the top four. This is our aim; trying to win as many games as we can. The team is ready, and everybody is ready to play at home. This is another test for us. Every single player will give his best and fight for the win.”

With the team’s top scorer Santana out for the season, the Spaniard was appreciative of the striker’s contribution to the side. “We lost Aridane for the rest of the season. He has been amazing, not only that he scored a lot of goals, but what he brought to the team in terms of his football. He will be a big miss. As a coach, I am very grateful of the job he did at Odisha. Everybody was very happy with him.”

Striker Manuel Onwu has been brought in on loan from Bengaluru for the remainder of the season to fill Santana’s void. Explaining the move, the Spaniard opined, “We needed a player from the league, because bringing a player from outside is a process. Manuel Onwu is a player we know well because he’s Spanish. He fits very well in the kind of football that we play. He didn’t score for Bengaluru but sometimes, when a striker changes clubs, his journey can change totally. We are happy to have him as a replacement for Aridane.”

He was joined by defender Mohammad Dhot, who spoke about the upcoming challenge and said, “We have a game plan and we are working on that. The three points are very important. For that, we have to play according to our plans. We lose or win in this sport. It is a part of football. There is no pressure. We have a plan and we will play according to that.”

Read the Match Preview here.

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