Odisha FC head coach Josep Gombau expressed that it was a huge result for them in the context of the playoffs race as they registered a comprehensive win against second-placed Hyderabad FC in the latest fixture of the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) at the Kalinga Stadium, in Bhubaneswar, on Friday.

Odisha FC dominated the proceedings from the very beginning and if not for Gurmeet Singh’s heroics the scoreline would’ve been even worse for the visitors. Isak Vanlalruatfela opened the scoring in the 33rd minute with a stunning curler at the far post. Nim Dorjee Tamang, against the run of play, scored the equaliser for Hyderabad FC in the dying minutes of the first half. The Kalinga Warriors went ahead again in the 72nd minute when Nandhakumar Sekar’s effort took a deflection from Nim Dorjee that went past the Hyderabad FC keeper. In the 93rd minute, Diego Mauricio finally got his goal and made it 3-1 for the home side.

The win saw Odisha FC moving back into the top six with 27 points from 18 games. This loss broke Hyderabad FC’s unbeaten streak of eight games. They remain second in the league table, five points clear of third-placed Kerala Blasters FC, with 36 points from 17 games.

While speaking in the post-match press conference, Josep Gombau mentioned how important were these three points and believes this performance can be a psychological boost for the remaining two matches.

He said: “Three very important points for us. Crucial. We have two more games to go. It is now important that we make use of these points. We will go game-by-game and aim to make it into the top six.”

Young winger Isak Vanlalruatfela had a fantastic outing against Hyderabad FC and his wonderful strike gave them the crucial lead in the game. The head coach has heaped praise on Isak but insists it was a team game that helped them cruise past their opponent.

“Isak (Vanlalruatfela) did well. He is a young player. We are happy with him but he needs to keep working the same in the remaining two games,” Gombau said.

“Every player did very well. They worked very hard to get the result,” he added.

Odisha FC’s performance have been underwhelming in the second half of the season. Coming into to this game, they had only managed five points from their last five games. The Kalinga Warriors needed a win to reignite their playoff ambitions. The Spanish head coach highlighted how the performance was different from the last few games.

“We discussed (before the game) the chances that we missed in the last few games. Maybe our football was not good. Today, we were trying to be more competitive and this is the way we want to go,” stated Gombau.

Odisha FC will next travel to Guhawati for their penultimate game against NorthEast United FC at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium on Friday. It will be another must-win game for them and Gombau believes they need to maintain their strong mentality to secure full points from the NorthEast game.

“Every game has the same value. NorthEast United FC have improved from what they were at the beginning of the season. I saw their game against East Bengal, they (NorthEast United FC) are a different team now. We know it will be a difficult game for us and we need to go with the strong mentality, knowing that we need three points from the game,” Gombau said.

Australian defender Osama Malik came back to the Matchday squad but was left out on the bench against Hyderabad FC. Gombau admitted that the centre-back is still in the recovery stage but stated he will be available for the next game.

“He was not 100% today. But if required, he would’ve played. He is still recovering but will surely be available for the next game on Friday,” he said.

Gombau also praised the supporters who filled the stands tonight and urges them to be in full voice when they play Jamshedpur FC in the final game of the league stage.

“They're helping a lot. We play (here) again in 12 days. Together we can do a good job and bring the much-need three points to be in the playoff,” he concluded.