Winning first match was important after a bad season last year: Odisha FC’s Javi Hernandez

Odisha FC midfielder Javi Hernandez believes that the 3-1 win over Bengaluru FC in their Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2021-22 opening match was very important, after a disappointing outing last term which saw them finish at the bottom of the table.

The Spanish midfielder, who won the Hero of the Match award, scored a brace to guide Odisha FC to their first ever win over the Blues in the history of the ISL.

“It's very important for us because the team came from a very difficult season. And today, the first match was very important. And, we go to the three points,” said Hernandez, after the win.

Vinit Rai, one of the captains for Odisha FC, emphasized on how their long pre-season helped the players shape up as a team ahead of the new season. The midfielder felt that the practice matches benefitted them to identify the mistakes and also rectify them in the build-up to the ISL 2021-22.

“We really had a very bad season last year because we didn't have much time on our hands to prepare for the season. But luckily, our staff and everyone, they took it very seriously and they started the season very early (this season). And, the coach also came very early. All the foreigners came early,” said Rai, during the post-match interview.

“So I think that's what we need, you know, to prepare for the season, because the more time we spend on the pitch with each other, the more we get to know, and we played so many friendly matches. I'm just very, very glad and very happy for the win because that's what you play for on the pitch,” he added.

Bengaluru FC started without Cleiton Silva, who played an influential role in their 4-2 win over NorthEast United FC in the last game. However, the Blues’ head coach Marco Pezzaiuoli defended his decision and claimed that the tweak was not responsible for the disappointing loss on Wednesday.

“I also need to think for the long term, not only for the short term, and I think Ibarra did well in the first half as well. And, the energy of Cleiton in the second half was very great, and had two big chances. I think that was the right decision. I think that's not why we lost, because of the change of Cleiton and Ibara,” stated Pezzaiuoli, after the match.

Bengaluru FC will be up against Kerala Blasters FC in their next match, on Sunday, at the GMC Athletic Stadium, in Bambolim. On the other hand, Odisha FC will face SC East Bengal on November 30, at the Tilak Maidan, in Vasco.

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