We have hunger and desire to be in the top six: Odisha FC's Josep Gombau
Odisha FC head coach Josep Gombau was delighted with his team's performance as the Juggernauts won 3-1 against NorthEast United FC in the latest fixture of the Hero Indian Super League (ISL), at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium, in Guwahati, on Friday.
After an even start to the game, Nandhakumar Sekar opened the scoring for the visitors in the 36th minute. The Juggernauts started the second half with a flurry of changes and got the second goal of the night from substitute Victor Rodriguez at the 65th-minute mark. Deigo Mauricio sealed the victory for Gombau's men in the 84th minute with a penalty, and Wilmar Gil got the consultation goal for the Highlanders in the 91st minute.
The victory helped Odisha FC move up to fifth position in the Hero ISL points table. Two consecutive wins have come at the right time for Odisha FC, who are just one point away from securing a playoff spot. Meanwhile, NorthEast United FC suffered their 16th defeat of the season as they continue to stay at the bottom of the table.
The race for the playoffs is taking turns after every fixture. Gombau's men started the match at the seventh position but have jumped two places after the victory. Gombau expressed how the hunger and desire to be in the top six is crucial and he was very happy with the three points.
Job done in Guwahati. 🎯#OdishaFC #AmaTeamAmaGame #TheEasternDragons #NEUFCOFC #HeroISL #ISL #LetsFootball pic.twitter.com/6CpW9IhfXm— Odisha FC (@OdishaFC) February 17, 2023
"We are very happy to get the three points, it wasn't an easy game and it was difficult to win here. I think the opposition team did well and put us in a difficult spot but we have this hunger and desire to try to be in the top six which we still haven't achieved yet we need at least one more point. I hope we can get this point in the next match at home. All the players worked very hard and did very well. It was not a comfortable game for us," Gombau said in the official post-match conference.
"We didn't have the ball as much as we wanted, especially in the first half. The second half was better for us when Victor (Rodriguez) came on and brought us the tempo and we scored the second goal. When you play for the top-six spot, then there's added pressure. Not an easy game but I'm very happy with the result," he added.
The Juggernauts would be looking to make history of qualifying for the Hero ISL playoffs for the first time in their history. Gombau highlighted the importance of the feat and stated the team would give all the effort in the upcoming game against Jamshedpur FC to be in the top six.
"We are a club that is very humble. We have never been in the playoffs and it's a big opportunity for us and we're sure of giving the effort and all the concentration to get this point. We won't play for the single point, we will play for the three points. The game is in Odisha and a lot of people would be in the stadium and the club is working hard to make the people come. We as coaches and players have a responsibility to do a good job and qualify," Gombau said.
Jerry Mawihmingthanga completed his 100th appearance in the Hero ISL. The 25-year-old joined Odisha FC in the 2019-20 season and is into his third season with the team. Gombau praised the forward for completing his century of appearances in the league and said he'll be important in the next match.
"He's a player who's very important to us. He has 100 appearances in the league and to have those many appearances in any league is not easy. I want to congratulate him, he's a very good guy, working hard every single day and this year, he's had a big impact on us. He'll be an important player in the next match," Gombau stated.
To end the league at home and with a chance to finish in the top six, the Juggernauts have the perfect setting ahead of their final league fixture. The Odisha FC head coach expressed his love for the fans and assured them that the team will work hard for a win in their upcoming matchh.
"I've a message that they have been a very important part of our team at home in Kalinga Stadium. We have very good numbers in our stadium because they help us to bring extra power that we need sometimes on the field. Now we're facing the most important game of the year that will bring us to achieve our objective. I hope they come and help, we need them and we'll work very hard to have a good game and wish them a good night," Gombau concluded.