Goa: After a 2-2 draw against NorthEast United FC, the league’s last boy Odisha FC have been looking forward to their first victory of the season against SC East Bengal. Odisha coach Staurt Baxter said that long gap after the lats game has helped them to regroup.
“Yeah, we needed some time together to regroup. It’s been that long break but it has been a useful one. I think the players are fresh now for this one-week break and are ready for it.” the 67-year-old told in the pre-match press conference.
The next three games of Odisha are against SC East Bengal, Kerala Blasters FC and Chennaiyin FC. All these teams have been struggling in the ISL this season and he is in no mood to take any of them lightly.
“I think what the games have shown us, not just ours but others too most of them are close affairs, there is nothing like playing a lesser team or a stronger team, all games in their way are difficult. So it’s a mistake if we think we will blossom into a wonderful team as we aren’t playing against one of the top teams of the league, so have the knife on our throats so do East Bengal. So that will be a big thing,” he added.
Odisha have always been vocal about teams’ mental health since the beginning of the season. “We have two groups of players, see I don’t want to split the squad but there are new foreigners settling into Indian football and there are young players who are helping the younger players, even more, experienced younger players are settling into and they have got a different message.
“The younger players generally fall into pieces with the tight defeats we have faced into most games. And even turning the draws into victories, if the question is with the mental health of the team I am certainly pleased about it. They have approached every game with a belief of winning and hope that will help us in the future,” Baxter said.
Their opponent East Bengal is a big name in Indian football. And sadly have been struggling to influence themselves in the ISL. Asked about his assessment on the opposition and his counterpart Robbie Fowler, he said, “I think I see a lot of similarities with us. We have a very young team that needs time in the field. They have a new team that needs time in the field. Maybe we and they have suffered more with the limitations of bio-bubble and quarantine etc.
“Again their games have been close games like us which they could have won. About Robbie, I don’t know him well as a coach but I know him as a player, but the job he has been doing under the difficult circumstances is the same as us. His team has been working very very hard but as a coach, we both want to see these things turn into good results as soon as possible,” he said.
Odisha keeper Arshdeep Singh has been one of the young and exciting talents in Indian football. He has been featuring for the side replacing experienced Kamaljeet Singh. “He is doing well. I think the main thing is that he is showing consistency from a keeper you want that consistency. Every game is a new game and a new challenge. But most importantly you have to do your A, B, C correct in the game and as far he has done a great job,” Baxter told about Arshdeep.
However, the 23-year-old thinks he needs to work more on himself. “I have to work a bit more, and work on my mistakes and still looking forward for a win,” he confessed. “Last season’s coaches were good. This year under Stuart it has been very exciting to say at least. He is a very tactical coach but we just need to make sure and apply it successfully on the field.”
Asked about his competition with other experienced ‘keepers in the team, Arshdeep said, “It’s been a very healthy competition in the goalkeeping department, with Kamaljeet. I am learning a lot from him and it’s a very healthy competition nothing else than that. We are all improving together,” he said.