Odisha FC’s new head coach Josep Gombau has already commenced work ahead of the new Hero Indian Super League (ISL) season and wants his team to put their best foot forward in all competitions with the objective of winning every possible trophy.

Paired together with Clifford Miranda as the newly appointed assistant coach, the duo is overseeing the developments at the club - on the pitch as well as off the pitch. With a longer football season underway, the Kalinga Warriors will set their sights on all three competitions - the Durand Cup, the Hero ISL, and the Super Cup under the footballing philosophy of Gombau.

After being heavily involved in the transfer market, shaping the team with the right kind of players, Gombau’s side will be hoping to set the bar higher than before where he was in-charge of the team during the Hero ISL 2019-20 season.

Ahead of the new season, the Spaniard along with his assistant coach spoke to the media in an exclusive press conference with Odisha FC.

Here are the excerpts from Gombau’s press conference:

What’s your plan for this season? Based on last year’s performance, do you think you can improve the performance this season?

I’m so happy to be here, and grateful to the management team for having faith in me. This year is going to be special as we’re back in Odisha after two seasons. I’ve seen many changes here [at Odisha FC], the facilities are much better. The plan is to make a strong team, to be proud of the club.

Yes, of course. This is a new start, a new project, and we will look into all details - small as well as big, to make this team grow. We have six new foreign players, three new Indian players, and three new developmental players which makes half of the squad. And we’re all working together to bring this team in shape, to bring our best game on the pitch before the start of the Hero ISL season with the challenge to reach the semi-finals and win the league.

Who do you think has the potential to develop more among Indian players this season?

We have young players who are good, we are working with them, finding their best traits. We have young players like Shubham, Narender [Gehlot], Isaak [Chaakchuak], Thoiba Singh, and a lot more. We have a lot of players coming from the reserve team but by doing the training sessions in the right manner during the season, they can jump into the first-team. I like to play with young players, so, if they have the potential, they are ready to play in the playing XI.

Odisha FC will be participating in the Durand Cup. What are your thoughts on that?

For us, it’s an important tournament. The oldest football tournament in Asia, which is a big thing to be part of, we are happy to play the Durand Cup. All the players are ready for this pre-season tournament. The Durand Cup is an important tournament for us and we will try to win it.

What are the targets you’ve set for yourself and the coaching staff this season?

First of all, we have to be competitive in all the competitions that we are a part of: Durand Cup, Indian Super League, Super Cup and try to win as many trophies as possible. We have to be strong, get good results, and at least reach the semi-finals of the ISL.

Secondly, I left Odisha in February 2020 and after returning this year, there are big differences. There are world class facilities, the pitch cover is more now.  Everything is maintained in a good condition. We are now ready to come back and bring football back to Odisha and I want to congratulate everyone who made this possible.

Here are the excerpts from Miranda’s press conference:

Could you share your initial impressions about the Indian players in the squad? What are your thoughts about working with Josep Gombau?

Miranda: The Indian players have immense potential, there are some players who can go on to represent the country. I think we have some incredibly talented players, but of course, we need to work on them. So, Josep sir and I will do our job together, to develop them better, for the club as well as for themselves. There are some players who have come through the youth system, which the club is proud of and this  is something which will encourage the club to invest more in the youth because there should come a time when the players should come through the system as we’re taking players from outside.               

For me, working with Josep is a fantastic experience. Before joining the club, I had a discussion with him and he convinced me that this is the way forward for me. It was important that my career, personally, as a coach progresses in the right direction, and I believe working under him, learning from him, I’m sure we progress in a positive way.

What according to you are the skills needed for the local talent in the state to develop into top players in the future?

Miranda: In my opinion, the first thing that comes to my mind is the culture, we need to change the culture. If the state wants to develop players, it needs to develop a culture. What I mean by culture is, it’s the general public all over India which needs to be informed about football. For example, we tell our children to focus on studies, it’s time we tell them to focus on football, and for that everyone as a community must get involved in developing this culture.

The physical structure is nice, but to get the right kind of football culture in the state, we need to start from the grassroots by giving them a platform where they can develop as football players and encourage them to play football.