Odisha FC head coach Josep Gombau is looking forward to the challenge as his side takes on Mumbai City FC in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) at the Mumbai Football Arena, in Mumbai, on Saturday.

This will be Odisha FC’s second straight away match after the Kalinga Warriors began their Hero ISL 2022-23 campaign with a thrilling win against Jamshedpur FC on Tuesday.

Read: Goalfest expected as Mumbai City FC and Odisha FC look to settle head-to-head record

Gombau is expecting a feisty game given that both Odisha FC and Mumbai City FC sport an attacking brand of football, and the Spaniard is not settling for anything less than a win. Gombau along with local lad Shubham Sarangi attended the official pre-match press conference and spoke about tackling MCFC’s midfield, and the plans for the upcoming Hero ISL season ahead of the match

Here are the excerpts from Gombau’s press conference:

How important was it to begin the first game with a win as it keeps the momentum going?

We started the league in good fashion against Jamshedpur FC. We won our first game. Every single game is very important. We came here knowing that we are facing a very good side. Mumbai City FC is a very strong team. They have very good players. We have come here with the aim to win. I think the game will be very equal. It will be a very good game because both teams try to attack. We both have some very good players in our squad and I think it will be a very nice game.

Do you feel your team’s attacking philosophy is similar to Mumbai City FC?

We are an attacking side. We have an attacking mentality. I prefer to win 5-4 than 1-0. As a coach we also have the responsibility to make the people who come to the stadium enjoy (the football). More so, in a country like India where football is not the biggest sport, we need to make fans come to see our game, enjoy, and feel that they want to come back (to watch us).

I think Mumbai City FC have the same philosophy. They are under the City Group, which plays an amazing brand of football. Top of the ice is Manchester City, which has its own style with an amazing coach. All the clubs under City Football Group play the same brand of football. We try to play attacking football. When I was in India before, we played the same way. We are two teams who love to have the ball, who want to attack, and I predict a nice game.

It’s a homecoming for a few players such as Amrinder Singh, Raynier Fernandes, and Diego Mauricio who were part of Mumbai City FC before. Your thoughts on adding Amrinder and Raynier to the squad?

They are excited and they want to prove themselves against their former team, especially Raynier and Diego (Mauricio) as they were part of the Mumbai squad the previous season.

When we planned for our squad, we did not think about signing Amrinder as we had a goalkeeper at that moment. But during the last moment before the Durand Cup, Kamaljit Singh left and in that moment, we had this spot available. We wanted a goalkeeper with experience and that is why we brought him. 

We have a very young goalkeeper in Niraj (Kumar). We have a very good number two (in Lalthuammawia) Ralte. But we needed a (first-choice) goalkeeper, and the opportunity came to bring Amrinder with us. I think he doesn’t need any introduction. Amrinder is one of the best goalkeepers in India. He is part of the national team and has played more than 150 games in the Hero ISL. At that moment, we were searching for a goalkeeper. He was present in the situation and he wanted to come. We are so happy to have him. He is very professional and he is working hard in the training session and he would help out the team. We are delighted, and we are happy to have him.

With Raynier, we knew that we needed experience in midfield. We have good young talented players, but this season we want to go one step further and try to qualify for the playoffs. This is our aim and to fight to win the league. I know Raynier from my last stint here in the league. I think he’s a player that can fit well in our system and style. We asked him to come on board if he didn’t have the opportunity to extend his contract with Mumbai City FC. I spoke to him and explained our plans, and he was happy to join us. I’m so happy to have him, he is one of our main players. 

In the seven Hero ISL games so far, only two teams have claimed wins at home. Do you think home teams have been a bit more overwhelmed this season with the fans coming back and is it something you want to take advantage of?

For sure, fans play a big part in football. Football without fans is nothing. For Covid, we played two years without fans and the flavour of football was missing. Not just in India, but around the world. Now, the fans have come back to the stadiums. I think this is the best thing for this season. The players need fans, the coaches need fans, football needs fans. We are very happy to go back to normal and to play with fans.

Here in India, football is growing. Every day, there are more fans in the stadiums. We played in Jamshedpur where many fans came even though the weather was bad. The good thing in India is that the fans like football and they support football. Even if you play away, you don’t think there is pressure and you see this as a nice thing. I hope on Saturday the stadium will be full and we can have a nice evening and win the game.

Here are the excerpts from Sarangi’s press conference:

How big of a challenge is it coming up against a midfield like Mumbai City FC that is capable of scoring goals?

We have our plans to defend against them and protect our defence. So we will try to execute it and give them a tough fight. They have good midfield, we respect them, but we also have to perform at our very best and give them a fight.

You have been with the club since inception. Ahead of the season, what have Odisha FC done differently to ensure that they finish in the playoffs this season?

We have a very good team. All the players are working very hard. We just want to take each game as it comes and give our best. We feel we can give a tough fight to all the opponents in the Hero ISL and be in the playoffs. As a team and as a player, we will just work hard in every single game to get the best results that we can achieve. We are looking forward to all the matches.