We hope to start a winning journey at home: Odisha FC head coach Gombau

Odisha FC head coach Josep Gombau is looking forward to his side's first home game of the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2022-23 season as they host Kerala Blasters, at the Kalinga Stadium, on Sunday.

The two sides earlier met in the Durand Cup 2022 in August, where Odisha FC secured a 2-0 win, but that came against Kerala Blasters' reserve side. Gombau, who attended the press conference alongside goalkeeper Amrinder Singh, spoke about returning to Odisha in his second stint, his side’s strengths, and more.

Here are the excerpts from Gombau's press conference:

How do you preview the game against Kerala Blasters?

We're so happy to be back home and play in Kalinga Stadium again. We have good memories from the last two Hero ISL seasons when we played here, and the players are excited to provide a very good performance. We hope that many fans will come to see the game and we hope we can start a winning journey here at home.

Any special plans for Kerala Blasters FC?

Kerala Blasters are a very strong opponent this year, and this season, there are a lot of good teams in the Hero ISL. We are facing a side that played in the final last season, with the same coach who has retained most of the players from last season. I think that it will be a very good game.

For every game, we have our own style, but also depending against the team that we face, we change a few things just to try to win and to try and give the opponent difficulties. We are working hard, we are training well and we are ready to face Kerala Blasters FC.

How was the experience of playing in the Durand Cup at home?

It was very good because it provided us five good games in pre-season If you are not traveling a lot, it is more difficult for us to play friendly games, and the Durand Cup gave us this experience. We faced good opposition teams, and I think it was very good to prepare for the league. We started with the league with two away games against Jamshedpur FC, who won the League Shield last season and against Mumbai City FC, who have a good squad. We had one win. We faced a defeat last week, but we played well. The small details decided the game. It's a new game on Sunday and we are excited to face Kerala Blasters FC.

How do you compare Kerala Blasters against Mumbai City FC?

They are two different teams. Kerala is a more agressive team in terms of defense and also in attack when they use the ball. Maybe Kerala Blasters' football is a little bit more direct than Mumbai City FC.

I am watching all the games and this season particularly, it's an equal league as anybody can beat anybody. The small details can decide if you win or lose. You can see the results this season and games have been decided in the last minute. There's not much difference between the teams.

We need to take care of the small details to win games. It will be a very good season. No team has won all three games so far and FC Goa is the only side to have won both their games. Playing home and away too can make a difference. We have played both our games away from home and now we have two games at home. I hope with the help of our fans, we can win more games.

Any update on Michael Soosairaj?

He is still recovering from his injury. He will be back next week and maybe for the next game, he will be able to play some minutes.

What are your strenghts that will help give Kerala a tough fight?

The way we prepare the game, we have our own way to play. We prepare a few attacking patterns that could work for us and this is what we are doing. We will try to be ourselves, with the way we are building the club, the system in which we want to play. And from there, we have to adjust these details in every game to be sure that we can hurt the opposition. We are preparing very seriously, we are working hard and the training sessions have been good. We come into the game with a winning and positive mentality and it will be a very good game.

Here are the excerpts from Amrinder Singh's press conference:

Kerala Blasters are a strong opponent. How is the team preparing for this clash? Are there any special plans?

Of course, Kerala Blasters have a good team and the same coach (from last season). Most importantly, we have to focus on ourselves and what we have to do all the time. We have to make good decisions on the pitch. For us, it is most important how we play and if we can adapt to the coach's plans quickly, we can hurt any team in this league.

Your thoughts on the Kalinga Stadium and the fan support?

I have a very good relationship with the state of Odisha. The first professional trophy that I won was in Odisha, the Federation Cup. I'm very excited to play at home, due to the fan support. If the fans can continue supporting us, we can do well in the coming matches too.

How do you assess the growth of Indian football in the country?

Since the inception of the Hero ISL, the fan following in the country has increased tremendously. The children know Indian football today and the players representing the team. If you had to ask the same children about this 10 years back, they wouldn't have much knowledge about Indian football. I think as time comes, people will know that there's good scope in Indian football and all parents would want their children to take up football. Indian football will grow in the coming years as much as cricket.

How are you gelling with the squad so far?

I joined the squad late, but I have been able to settle in quickly. All the players, Indian or foreign, we are like one family and we are helping one another. If there's any mistake, we try to rectify it quickly. This season we have a strong squad and one can expect us to do well in the coming matches.

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