We lacked quality on the bench to add power in the game: Odisha FC's Gombau

Odisha FC head coach Josep Gombau cited the lack of quality from the bench in the last quarter as the reason for their 2-4 loss against Mumbai City FC in matchweek 13 of the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) at the Kalinga stadium, in Bhubaneswar, on Monday.

The game was evenly poised in the first half as both teams failed to break the deadlock. In the 56th minute, Lallianzuala Chhangte opened the account for the away side. Though Odisha FC pulled one back within minutes through Diego Mauricio, the Islanders ran away with consecutive goals. Gombau congratulated Mumbai City FC for their win as they played better after the substitution, which the home team lacked.

"I think we played a decent game against a very strong opposition. The loss that we suffered today is because they (Mumbai City FC) did very well. I don't see a big mistake. Of course, you need to analyze the game. I think that we competed very well, we had our momentum, trying to be in the game, but at the very end the opposition team had a lot of quality and in the last 25 minutes, they were better and they scored more also. Just congratulate them and keep going," Gombau said in the post-match press conference.

Odisha FC started the match without the likes of Saul Crespo, Osama Malik, Shubham Sarangi. It was clearly visible in the second half as the Juggernauts started to wither away in the absence of experienced campaigners. However, the head coach didn't want to cite this as an excuse but admitted that lack of players off the bench certainly played a role in the loss.

"We missed some players. But I don't want to use this as an excuse. At the end we play 11 against 11, and for me the important players are those who played the game today. It is true that we missed key players. We don't have extra players on the bench who can bring the extra power at the last minute. Now it is important to recover people for the next game, recover the players and go strong in the next game, which is an important one," the head coach said.

One key takeaway from this loss for Odisha FC is the performance of their target man, Diego Mauricio. The striker scored the equalizer at 62nd minute and struck another one at the cusp of full-time. Gombau was pleased with the performance of Mauricio and hopes that it would have a positive effect on the team that failed to score in their previous three outings.

"Diego Mauricio scored two goals today. This will bring him a lot of power for the next game. We need him. We need his goals. I am happy with his performance as I am happy with the performance of the team, honestly. This is what we expect from him. I'm happy with the two very good goals. This will bring extra motivation to him and also confidence to all of us. Just try to forget today's game and start preparing for the next one," he said.

With their unbeaten run at home coming to an end, the Kalinga Warriors find themselves level on points with FC Goa in the sixth position. Gombau's men now face East Bengal FC at home in their upcoming fixture, with the head coach keen on fighting for the top six spot.  

"Tuesday is for recovery and also to analyze the last game and to start preparations for the next one against East Bengal FC, an important one. We need to win if we want to be in the top 6. We are playing at home so it's important to win," he added.

"I think a few of them (injured players) are coming in. I expect Saul Crespo to be in and Pedro(Martin) played today but was not 100% physically fit. He can be in for the next match," he concluded.

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