Odisha FC head coach Kino Garcia wants his team to continue working hard and move ahead with the positives from this season to be at their desired position in the future, as his sides takes on Jamshedpur FC in their last game of the campaign in Match 106 of the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2021-22 season at the Athletic Stadium in Margao, Goa on Friday.

Garcia looked back at his side’s season thus far and remained optimistic about his squad, stating that there needs to be development in the consistency of their performances along with an addition of new players integrating with the young ones for a better campaign in the next season.

Ahead of his side’s tussle with Jamshedpur FC, the Kalinga Warriors head coach along with defender Sebastian Thangmuansang addressed the media during the official pre-match press conference.

Here are the excerpts from the coach’s press conference:

How would you evaluate Odisha FC’s season so far?

Garcia: I think we improved from our last season, but we are still far from the position we want to be at. So, we have to keep working and keep training hard for the next season, and keep learning from this season, keep working on things that are positive. So, I think it’s a transition after a bad season last year. It’s okay, we improve, and I think the team could be better.

In terms of the points table, the club has experienced a good and a significant improvement. What are the additions you think the team should make for the next year?

Garcia: I think we have to have continuity, we need to add some new players that can add experience to the young players that we have in our team who have great talent, are improving, and doing good. So, we have to keep the core of the foreign players as they are performing well. Keeping the same base and having more knowledge about India and the ISL, the team is definitely going to improve next season.

This fixture is important for a few teams at the top. Would you like to finish the season with a bang and make it tough for the others?

Garcia: Yes, of course. But it’s not because I’m thinking about other teams, I am only thinking about my team, Odisha. I want my team to have the three points, I don’t care if other teams are willing that we beat Jamshedpur, in the same manner we played against ATK Mohun Bagan. We made it because we performed well and because I think the Odisha fans deserve the team to perform in a proper manner.

We are just trying and thinking to get the three points. We know that it’s going to be a tough match, they are playing for the title and are in a really good mood. They’ll be coming for everything, so, it’s going to be a tough game but also they will be playing with pressure.

What are your thoughts on Friday’s game?

Garcia: As I said, it is going to be a tough game. I think Jamshedpur will come to the match with a lot of pressure as they are fighting for the title, a position I would love to be in, but for us, it’s going to be a match to enjoy, to try to perform well, to get the three points, to go higher in the league.

And I think they have really good players, they bought Chima [Daniel] in the winter [transfer] window, bringing them more threat in the attack. All their players, Indian or foreign, come with a lot of talent.

Anything you want to say to the fans ahead of the last game of the season?

Garcia: Of course, I’m really happy about all the messages that I received from the Juggernauts [Odisha FC’s official supporters group] and from all the people of Odisha. For me, it’s a big motivation and to all of the staff to make the club as good as possible for them, and I hope that we can see all of them together in the next season, and that they are proud of the players and proud of the team.

Would you be giving gametime to younger players in the squad?

Garcia: Maybe, we’ll make some changes, but as I said, we’re thinking about winning the game. So, maybe we’ll give some gametime to some players because they deserve it. They are training well, they’re competing, they’re going to add good things to the team, so if it’s like that, we will give gametime, but our intention will remain the same, to compete in the best way possible.

Here are the excerpts from the player’s press conference:

What’s your motivation going into the last game of the season?

Sebastian: As the coach said, we are here to compete, and we won’t leave any stones unturned to get the three points and this is for all the fans, for ourselves, for the club, and for the team. We want to win.

How has it been so far playing under coach Kino Garcia this season? How has it helped your overall development as a player?

Sebastian: As we already know, I didn’t have much gametime but in the process, it has been a learning curve for me, it moulded me into a strong mentality with all my friends who haven’t had gametime, young players, so we keep motivating each other.

So, in the meantime, the coaches and the technical staff, they work with us in our overall game like technicality whenever they have time. So, I think we have improved a lot, not just me but all the boys.

What are your thoughts on Odisha FC’s performances this year?

Sebastian: So coming to the start of the season, we started really good and there were high expectations, but to be realistic, we have improved a lot from last year. And we'll build on the momentum and progress on from here as you can see we are building a process here. So, we need to be patient and work on the things we have built on from here.

Any message for the fans?

Sebastian:  You guys have been amazing and it has been a roller-coaster ride for us. Sometimes we are high, sometimes we are low, but the fans have been really amazing, sticking through the tough times. It is easy to be nice and positive and encouraging when we win, but it is more difficult to support when the team is going through tough times and that’s a real fan. So you guys did pretty well. Thank you so much.