Odisha FC head coach Josep Gombau wants his team to show their desired hunger on the pitch and keep on with their winning mentality, as his side takes the field against Bengaluru FC in matchweek 4 of the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) at the Kalinga Stadium, in Bhubaneswar, on Thursday.

Having played three games so far, the Kalinga Warriors have registered two wins and have suffered one loss. In both the wins, Gombau’s men came from behind to take home full points, but the head coach demanded his team to start scoring early on and keep the result instead of fighting for a late comeback.

Gombau has urged his players to take this game as an added motivation to extract revenge on the Blues after facing a defeat in the Durand Cup 2022 quarter-final. The Spaniard stated that the game against Bengaluru would be a difficult one, but would be the ideal game for the local fans to see how good their team is.

The 46-year-old addressed the media in the official pre-match press conference along with midfielder Raynier Fernandes.

Here are the excerpts from Gombau’s press conference:

What are your views on the game against Bengaluru FC?

Yes, it’s an important game for us (as) we’re playing our second game at home in a row. We had very little time to prepare for the game, but I think that we are ready, the players have been showing hunger (to give their best) and it will be a very good game against Bengaluru FC. They are an incredibly good team and we come into this game with the aim of taking revenge because they beat us in the Durand Cup. With this mentality, we approach the game, try to win on Thursday, and leave the stadium with a good fervour.

You won two games after coming from behind. Do you think this is a sign of a strong mentality from the team this season?

Yes, for sure, this team shows an extremely strong mentality. When you make a comeback in the games, it means that they show pride or hunger and that they have a strong mentality to go ahead and do it (win the games). It is easy to say, but very difficult to perform, and I’m always there to encourage them and give them hope in doing so. We all know the games are 90 minutes long and until the last minute, we need to work on and fight.

It definitely will be better if we can start winning the game and keep the result. But for any reason if we concede a goal before we score, we have the capacity to work hard and bring back the game like we did in the last two games that we won.

Does it give either team any sort of advantage after having played against each other once before?

I think we know each other very well, but it’s also that we’ve seen all the teams in the league and how they play. For us, I want to use this game as extra motivation because we lost in the other 20 minutes being with 10 men (in the Durand Cup) and we need to take out this bad feeling that we got that day and bring back a nice, playful one. Almost everybody knows everyone in this league and what is true is that the games are fairly equal.

Bengaluru FC have fine players and I think it will be a difficult game, but I think we can win because the boys are ready and all of us are excited to play them on Thursday. Knowing that we are facing a big team with big names in the league, I think it’s a good opportunity for the fans to see how good Odisha FC is. I hope on Friday, we have a lot of people in the stadium who want to enjoy a good football game. You come and support the local team and we’ll go and win the game.

You’ve spoken about the fact that you need the whole squad to achieve something this season, not just your playing XI. As a coach, how do you pick and choose your moments to introduce different members of the squad at different times?

We have spoken with the players and they know that when we want to achieve an objective it is not just 11 men, it is the 25 players in the squad. These 25 players complete the team and they need to help the team in the moment along with the coach and they need to believe they can bring something to the game which is the mentality we need here.

As a coach, you need to choose the players that they think are in their best shape and moment or the players that fit more in a particular game. What they are bringing (on the pitch) is something extremely good. The attitude is very good. Everybody's working so hard in the training sessions. Together, I think that we can do something nice.  

Bengaluru FC are a physically imposing side and the way Odisha FC likes to play, we might see a match-up of two contrasting styles. So, what kind of a game do you expect on Thursday?

It would be an incredibly good game. As you say, Bengaluru FC are a physically imposing team, they are strong, and have a consistent style of play. We know exactly what we want (from the game) and I can see it to be an equal game that will be decided on small margins. The players are ready and are at the standard that they need to be at to win the games. Also, playing at home in front of fans, I see that we can put on a good game and that is our objective to win the game with a positive mentality.

We know we’re going game by game but at home, we need to win the points and it’s important for us. The more important thing is the character of the team, to believe in what we’re doing. I ask them every game to bring their 120% in every single game and I see a game that will be tough but we are ready for this one.     

Here are the excerpts from the questions asked to Raynier:

How has it been playing under head coach Josep Gombau so far? What are your learnings in the short space of time that we’ve seen so far?

Before signing for Odisha FC, the coach told me about the plan as a player as well as an individual. In the pre-season, it was a new team, a new journey for me, and the coach has given confidence to me and all the other players in the team. Individually, I got to learn a lot from the coach, I got to learn something that was missing from my game. The coach would guide me and correct me on my mistakes and that’s how I built my confidence in training as well as in the game.

It's been quite some time now with this team and the coach has a big game for individual players as well as the team. It's like a positive thing for the team and for the (team) environment. Because if this mentality is there, then the players have the confidence to do well in the training as well as in the matches. That way it becomes easier for the players to learn and play under coach Josep.

What are the collective targets you’ve set as a group and what are the targets you’ve set for yourself?

Firstly, I need the playing time that I want, and that’s only possible if I train well and show to the coach that I deserve to be in the playing XI. I want to show the boys that I deserve to be at their level because every game, every team we’re playing, it's different, whichever team we are going to face, the plan, the training is a bit different. So I have to cope up with the team, I have to follow what the coach says. The goal for me is to get as much playing time as possible and get the results.

We will take every game step-by-step and we want the best result for every game. We’re working really hard for it and we’re just waiting for the right moment to get these points and in the long run it’s going to be a good thing.