Josep Gombau: Won’t be treating Kerala match as a friendly

Odisha FC’s final match of the Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2019-20 will be against Kerala Blasters FC at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar on Sunday. The Odisha-based club have so far won 24 points from 17 matches, and could finish above Mumbai City FC in fifth if they mange to come away with three points against Kerala.

At the pre-match press conference, Odisha head coach Josep Gombau urged his players to use that as a motivation and help the club finish their campaign with a win. He said, “As a football coach, as a sports person, first of all, we need to play for one objective, that is to improve. The second thing is that we have a responsibility to make sure the people coming to watch us at our home enjoy the game. We need to show this from the first minute. The third thing, on a personal note, is that everybody has their own achievements, and everybody needs to prove himself. We are approaching the game in the same way. We are working in the same way. I hope that against Kerala, everybody who play have the same mentality. For us, it’s one more game and we want to win.”

He added, “It will be a game where both teams are not playing to fight for the semi-finals. But it is a game that offers us the chance to achieve fifth place in the table. I don’t want to relax and think it is a friendly game. I want everybody to have passion to play the game.”

The Spaniard then looked back at Odisha’s season and opined, “I think the feeling that I have in terms of the overall season is that I am very happy, very confident and positive. We had a very young squad and we played good football. We won a lot of games in Odisha. I think the beginning of this project started very well. It’s sad that we cannot be in the top four. But we need to accept this and keep working on this project.”

Looking at the future, Gombau added, “We like it here as a new club. We found a good base here. We made fans and are grateful to them. We played with a very young squad. Even with the difficulties, we arrived towards the end with the chance to be in the top four. For a young team that just moved to a city, to finish like this is good. It is positive. It is just the beginning of something nice. Next season will be better. We have a good future.”

Asked to pick a favourite for the Hero ISL 2019-20 title, Gombau noted, “For me as a coach it is difficult to predict who will win. After 18 games, the team that is in the top is the team that deserves to win. Because everybody plays twice against each other. Normally, for me, the team that won the regular league is the best team in the league. Now in the semi-finals, anything can happen because in a two-legged game, you can have one bad game and make a mistake. It’s difficult. I think these kind of tournaments bring excitement to the people because they love to watch a final. When you reach the semi-finals, anything can happen.”

Goalkeeper Francisco Dorronsoro, who was also at the media briefing, said, “I think especially at the beginning of the season, it was difficult because we were not able to play at home. But it has been a very good season overall. For a new team, we can be very happy. I think for next season, the team will have more chances to perform better because we have a very young squad.”

Read the Match Preview here.

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