Josep Gombau and Nikhil Prabhu attended the pre-match press conference and briefed the media ahead of their game tomorrow against Chennaiyin FC.
How do you think you are preparing the team against Chennaiyin FC and how do you intend to get back to the ISL top 6?
Josep Gombau: With only five games left in the season, this (game) is so important for us, we are all focused and working very hard to achieve our target for this season. Last game we didn’t get the result but it’s not like the team is not working hard, it’s football, and sometimes the results come to your side and sometimes not. We are very hungry for three points going into this game.
What do you think is the main reason that the team is not able to get the results? Is it a lack of concentration or finishing or tactics?
Josep Gombau: No, I think there is something that we never think about. We didn’t win against two big teams away. I don’t see any game in which we performed poorly. There was no instance where I thought that the attitude of the players is not good. I saw everybody fighting, everybody running. I cannot blame anybody for the loss. Some mistakes indeed punished us that is we need to learn. I say, for example, loss of concentration in some actions or bad decisions in other actions. And in the final third, maybe a lack of accuracy.
We started the season pretty strong. For the longest time, we were in the top six and the team has ground out results at home. What do you make of the situation that we are in and do you believe that we can still turn it around?
Josep Gombau: Of course, I believe. I don’t sit here if I don’t believe. It’s football, we gained momentum in the very beginning. Yesterday, we were discussing with the players that we are not that bad a team now that we are struggling. I think that sometimes small details change the game. Look, this is football, we need to prove that we are a playoff team and if we don’t do it then it’s because we don’t deserve it. At the end you play 20 games, you wait at home against all the other 10 clubs, and if at the end you are not there then because you don’t deserve it.
Last time we won against Chennaiyin FC at home, Odisha FC beat them 3-2. Are you expecting a similar performance and what are your thoughts going into this game?
Josep Gombau: No, I think it will be a very equal game it will be a game that will be difficult, they are also fighting for a spot in the playoffs, normally when you have this kind of game it is a lot of respect from both sides. In this game, whoever handles the pressure better, who has a better mentality, will have more to say. But it is the moment for the players to step up and show that they are ready to deal with this kind of situation. In a moment, it is ALL OR NOTHING that you play a game that brings you to hope and closer to the next step. As coaches, and as footballers, we need to deal with this as we have a responsibility towards the club and because this is our job. It’s not just training, it is also about competing. And I think that is what we will bring tomorrow to Chennai.
How has it been so far for you this season?
Nikhil Prabhu: I have improved a lot under the coach and the coaching staff. The coach has built up confidence in me and I am starting to see that myself. Keeping the ball and building up from the back is my main perspective and I’m developing that day by day in terms of defending they have taught me a lot of things that as a young player I need to improve on and grow.
What are the key areas you think you have improved as a player during your time here at the club and under the coach?
Nikhil Prabhu: The coach has brought out a different side in me. I am starting to keep the ball more and building up from the back, that’s what my main prospect is & I am developing that day by day. In terms of defending, they have taught me a lot of things that, as a young player, I need to learn and adapt to so that I can improve myself and grow as a player. Even when I commit a small mistake or a big mistake, they have encouraged me and they have helped me to correct it. So that, in the game when I play, these things are not noticeable and I perform to the best of my abilities whenever my team needs me.
What are your thoughts going into the game against Chennaiyin FC?
Nikhil Prabhu: The thoughts are the same like we have in every game and that is to win and we are going into the game for all three points. In life, there are ups and downs and in football also, we win or we lose. But the main thing is Unity. We as a team believe in ourselves and we are going to give everything to win this game. The coach has his tactics and we just need to translate that onto the pitch and if we implement it in the right way, we will have the three points in the bag.