We will face one of FC Goa's strongest teams: Odisha FC’s Josep Gombau

Odisha FC head coach Josep Gombau praised his opponents FC Goa on playing a similar brand of attacking football and mentioned about the experience of their head coach Carlos Pena, as the two sides lock horns in matchweek 10 of the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Goa on Saturday.

With the hosts coming into the game after two back-to-back losses, Gombau warned his players to not get carried away by looking at the Gaurs’ last two results. He mentioned that the game will be two teams who are equally matched and wants his players to focus on their weaknesses and emerge victorious.

Further, the Spaniard shed light on the strength of his squad, being one of the only sides to have a different playing eleven in each game since the start of the season. The 46-year-old also provided injury updates, spoke about the threat possessed by FC Goa, and a lot more as he addressed the media alongside forward Pedro Martin in the official pre-match press conference.

Here are the excerpts from Gombau’s press conference:

How is the preparation coming along for Saturday’s match?

Gombau: We are happy to be here. I think on Saturday, it will be a very nice game. There are two sides who like to play a similar kind of football. We’ve had a lot of time to prepare for the game and I think the players did very well, and I think we’re ready to go for Saturday’s game. We will try to have a good game and get a good result out of it.

You’re heading to Goa on the back of another win against NorthEast United FC. What are your thoughts? What is your mentality coming into this game and what is the atmosphere in the dressing room?

Gombau: As we always say, we go game by game. On Saturday, we face a strong opposition in FC Goa on their field. We saw a lot of similarities between both teams in the way we approach the game and in the way that we play. And then yes, we are working very hard to try to get a good result from here. That for us is important, and I think the boys are ready, everybody's working hard, everyone is excited for Saturday’s game. We have the last thing session here this evening.

What do you think of FC Goa’s squad ahead of Saturday’s game?

Gombau: I think they have a very good team and also a very good coach, a coach that knows the league very well because he played here (in the Hero ISL) before and was very successful. They have a very good bunch of local players, and also have a very good addition of the foreign players. I see them as a very good team and we have a lot of respect for them. But also we are in a moment where we are working very well. We have our tools to try on Saturday to get a good result and to get the three points.

What according to you are FC Goa’s main threats?

Gombau: There’s a theme that they want to play the ball from the back. They have a very clear and honest style of play. It’s an offensive team and they always score goals. The side has a lot of good players in the roster. For me, this is one of the strongest FC Goa sides. 

Any weaknesses of FC Goa you want to exploit?

Gombau: Of course. When we prepare for the games, we always try to look for how we can penetrate or how we can damage the opposition team. But there is something that we, as players and coaches, speak about. For sure, with every single team, if you want to beat them you need to try and exploit the things that they have a little bit of weaknesses in. But, we as a team also have weaknesses.

Is Raynier fit to play and ready to be involved in Saturday’s game?

Gombau: Yes, Raynier is fit and available to play like everybody. This is a good thing that we have a much longer squad, a good squad, and you can see that we have players that, some days, are in the first eleven, sometimes not, and importantly that when the players come from the bench, they make an impact. It’s happening to us that the players coming from the bench are doing so well and are helping the team win games or they are changing and improving the game. 

And this is something that I am so proud of because it is not just about 11 (players). I think we haven’t repeated any 11 in any single game since we started which is something that shows that we have a good pool of players. Depending on the game, you use one or the other (and also) depending on how you want to approach the game. Also that sometimes makes it difficult for the coach to make the decision because all of them are training really well.

FC Goa are coming into this game on the back of two losses - against Bengaluru FC and against Mumbai City FC. How do you think it will impact the game on Saturday?

Gombau: Look, when you lose a game, you have a headache as a coach but it is also an opportunity to react (in the next game) and to redeem yourself and say we lost but now we (will win). With our aims and with these kinds of candidates, we have to try and win every single game. We don’t want to think that they (FC Goa) lost the last two games and that the game will be easy because they have come from a loss. Similarly, we don’t want to think it will be a difficult game because they lost the last two games and want to win the next one.

We will go and do our job. The players know their job very well, and I think that on Saturday it won’t affect them that they lost the last two games on what will happen in the game. If we go ahead in the score, in the moment for them, it can be more difficult because in his mind, it will be the last two games they lost but if the result remains 0-0, it's not something that will affect the game.

Any injury concerns for the game?

Gombau: No, it is the same that we had last week. (Michael) Soosairaj and Shubham (Sarangi) are still recovering, but the rest of the team is available and is ready to play.

Here are the excerpts from Pedro’s press conference:

You’ve started off on a high, scored goals for the club and an important performance in a comeback win against East Bengal FC. How has it been so far for you in the Hero Indian Super League?

Pedro: I came here with a mindset of whether I’ll be able to adapt to India and the (Hero) Indian Super League but after a few months of playing here, I’m happy to be here. I’ve adapted very well to the league. The kind of player that I am, I can bring good things to the team and onto the league. I am satisfied with my reason for coming here in India.

How has your experience of training and playing under head coach Josep Gombau been so far?

Pedro: When Josep told me the first time to come play for him, he trusted me (with my abilities). I am grateful for Josep and I am calm when I play for him.

What are your expectations from this season? What are your personal targets that you want to achieve with the team?

Pedro: Honestly, I want to win the league and I think it is possible. Mumbai (City FC), Hyderabad (FC), (FC) Goa are all good teams but I think it’s possible. I’ve come to India with the winning mentality. For me, I want to play more. I have played seven-eight matches so far and I want to continue down that line.

You have been a fan favourite the moment you scored against Kerala Blasters FC. What are your thoughts on playing in front of the fans at the Kalinga Stadium?

Pedro: We need your support. When we play in the Kalinga Stadium, I want the stadium to be full.

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