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Josep Gombau: We would have won more if we had not played in Pune

The Spanish coach opined that his side could have qualified if they had not played three home games in Pune…

With Chennaiyin’s win over Mumbai City FC on Friday, Odisha’s hopes of a possible playoff spot ended on Saturday evening. Their next game against Kerala Blasters is a dead rubber. But Josep Gombau is not ready to cede even an inch to the Blasters and will field his strongest possible side. 

“No experiments for tomorrow. The three points have the same value. We want to finish at 27. This is the planning. Tomorrow as a team, we will play to improve and finish as high as possible. We have the responsibility to be professionals and play a game that the fans would enjoy and we would do that from the first minute. We will approach the game with the same mentality as we would have done before. We want to win,” said Odisha’s head coach. 

The Spanish coach is satisfied with his team’s progress this year and even thinks that the ISL debutants could have qualified for the knockouts if they had played all the matches at the Kalinga Stadium instead of having to play a few games at the Balewadi Sports Complex in Pune.

“I am sure that if we had played more at this venue, we would have done better. We have won four and have lost only once. We would have had more points if we played the three games here and not in Pune. 

“I am very happy with the progress in the season. We have started a new project in a new city, with some very young players and we have played good football. It has started well. We need to keep working on this project and achieve our objective in the next season. We have a good base here. There are good fans. For a young team, for a new team which has just moved to the city, it is good enough to finish fifth (if they win against Blasters). Just the beginning of a very good project. In the next season, the fields will be better, along with the training grounds. The young players will be more experienced,” stated Gombau.

But the coach is not happy with the condition of the pitch as he added, “The field is not the best. We have been having difficulties. But this happened because we organised the pitch at the last moment. We came to play when the grass was very tender. We are not complaining. Grasses take at least two months to become compact but we started playing within 10 days. So this happens.”

The former Barcelona youth academy coach didn’t wish to predict the possible winners of this season. 

“It is difficult to predict who will win the title. But after 18 games, the team which is on top deserves to be on top. In the play-offs, anything can happen. A little mistake, a suspension, an injury to a key player can hamper the chances. Momentum is also important as Chennaiyin is coming at the back of some good form. Bengaluru are in two competitions now. So anything can happen,” signed off Gombau. 

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