'We aren't going to change our style of play,' Josep Gombau lays down the law before Odisha FC's clash against Mumbai City FC
At the tail-end of August, 2019, the Indian footballing fraternity were taken aback when the Delhi Dyanmos were renamed as Odisha FC and the club was slated to play its matches in Bhubaneshwar.
Consequently, a spoke was thrown in their preparation as they had to contend with a change in venue, among other things. Unsurprisingly, plenty earmarked them to endure a sticky start to the season. And, though their results have lent weight to that notion, their performances couldn’t have been farther from that perception.
In their opening couple of games, Odisha have given a good account of themselves but, have somehow managed to end up on the wrong side of the result on both occasions.
While they were undone by Sergio Castel at Jamshedpur, Asamoah Gyan proved to be their kryptonite in Guwahati. Inevitably, several questions were being raised about Odisha’s inability to see games out, a weakness magnified by their late concession of goals against Jamshedpur FC and NorthEast United.
However, coach Josep Gombau, despite the negative results, wasn’t enduring many sleepless nights. He quipped,
“In both games, we have played well and have looked good in possession. But, unfortunately, results have not gone our way. Against Jamshedpur, we had a man advantage and conceded from a transition whereas against NorthEast, we were a man down and we shipped in a goal from a set-piece. So, I don’t feel there is a lot to worry about."
On being questioned if he might prioritise a bit more calculation over creativity on Thursday considering their poor start, he quickly swatted away those questions and replied,
“We play a certain brand of football because we feel it is the best approach that will help us win. Even in our losses, we haven’t played badly and we will continue with our philosophy against Mumbai.”
When asked what kind of game he was gearing up for on Thursday, he opined,
“Mumbai have a good team and a good coach in Jorge Costa, who has a lot of European experience. We also played Mumbai a few times in practice matches and it was good. I expect a good game tomorrow.”
Gombau also opened up about new signing, Xisco Hernandez, saying that the Spaniard had already bought into the team’s ideas and had become an important cog in the Odisha wheel.
As for Jerry Mawihmingthanga, the coach remarked that the youngster had been developing really well. He further added,
“Jerry is getting better with each day and is very good with the ball. He has pace and is good in transitions also. If he keeps improving like this, he could be a star for India in the next 2-3 years.”
He also said that the club were actively involved in developing players at a young age and imbibing them with top-quality footballing education, wherein he also pointed out that Odisha’s average age was the lowest among all ISL teams.
Finally, Gombau talked about how the sudden change in the club’s base had initially acted as a setback but the love and affection shown by those in Bhubaneshwar had made that turnaround easier.
Thus, despite two back to back losses, Odisha don’t seem in any hurry to abandon their success mantra and opt for something a little more pragmatic. And, one feels that their bravery and courage to stick with a formula that has worked for them could ultimately propel them to a few victories.