Kerala Blasters FC have quality players but they also work hard: Odisha FC head coach Kiko Ramirez

Odisha FC head coach Kiko Ramirez believes the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) is very competitive this season and predicts the race for the top four to go down to the wire.

Odisha FC take on league leaders Kerala Blasters FC in match 58 of the Hero ISL 2021-22 at Tilak Maidan Stadium, Vasco da Gama on Wednesday.

Odisha FC are in eighth position in the league table with 13 points in nine matches. They have played a game less than others after their match with ATK Mohun Bagan was postponed due to medical concerns. OFC is in contention for the top four spots. They are just three points behind the fourth place with almost half a season left. 

Ahead of Odisha FC’s clash against Kerala Blasters FC, coach Ramirez, striker Jonathas de Jesus and assistant coach Kino Sanchez, who acted as a translator addressed the media during the official pre-match press conference.

Here are the excerpts from Ramirez’s press conference.

How much threat does Kerala Blasters FC possess?

We know that Kerala Blasters FC are in good shape. They are winning matches which uplifts the mood of the players. They work hard on the pitch. Moreover, they have really good forwards who are a threat to any team.

What’s your take on KBFC coach Ivan Vukomanovic?

He is doing a good job. They are leading the table. His players are moving well. We can just congratulate him. But we need to know how the competition ends. We are in the middle of the competition and the champion will be crowned at the end.

Only four points separate the top seven points, what are your thoughts on the race?

Every team is equal. Anyone can beat anyone. We saw with Mumbai City FC, they were top of the table and now they are going through a bad run. Like the coach of KBFC said, now it is an important phase of the league so we want to win. The KBFC coach said it’s like a final for them, it’s the same for us.

What are your thoughts on the ATK Mohun Bagan match that was postponed? How does it affect your team’s plan going forward?

We had planned for the match and were ready to face them. The important thing in this situation is that we respect the rules. Let’s see how it affects the rest of the season. But we need to try to be safe. Everyone knows the first thing is the safety of the players and everyone involved in the league.

Have the club finalised Vinit Rai’s replacement and which other positions are the club looking to sign players?

We are keeping an eye on the market. We are looking at two sides. One bringing a player who can join immediately and matches our profile. And we are also trying to scout young players who can improve the squad in the coming years.

Here are the excerpts from Jonathas' press conference.

How would you describe your performance so far?

I am happy with my performance. I arrived late compared to the rest of the players. I think I can be better. And as the season progresses I am sure I will get better.

What do you think about the league and the Indian players participating in it?

I was surprised with the level of the players and the teams. The league is very competitive. And the important thing is if all the players follow the coach’s instructions we can beat any team.

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