Coach Stuart Baxter and captain Steven Taylor spoke to the press ahead of Odisha FC’s Indian Super League (ISL) match against Hyderabad FC. Here are some key quotes from the press conference.
Whether the team is ready for the new season
I don’t think any team is ready completely. If you ask any of the coaches, they would like more time. If you ask the players they would like some more practice games. But they can be as ready as they can be and they have faced that challenge pretty well. They have worked hard and the coaching staff and technical staff have done a very good job and we have tried to put in place all of the things that you want to put in place so when kickoff comes we can be ready as we can be.
Regarding the team’s comfort level away from home due to pandemic
As an athlete you got no comfort level. Your job is to stretch those comfort level as far as you can sometimes even coming out of it. I can say that the players have done a pretty good job in approaching it and I am pretty pleased with that. Lets see how much we can stretch ourselves.
Whether Odisha can maintain their streak against Hyderabad
History doesn’t help anybody here. We got two new games against them. They got new players, we got new players. Lots of things have changed on both ends so we will approach the games based on here and now and not what could have been or what may have been.
Influence of 6 foreigners in the team
Relying on players is a very risky business. I think you should be able to play without anybody if possible. Of course foreign players should be influential. One of their biggest influences is that they should influence the Indian players in a positive way and encourage them and help them[Indian players] to develop. As for the forwards we are looking for them to be a threat. But we are certainly looking at everybody to have a role in development of the Indian players.
What style to expect from the team this season
If you look at last year’s performance,the coach[Josep Gombau] had been here for two years and certainly there was a style of football that was developing possession based. The team conceeded more goals than the coach wanted,couldn’t ship in more goals than the coach wanted, the set-pieces needed to be more polished. We would like to build our game based on what was done last year. I would like to think that we have to be efficient and attractive. That’s not an easy thing to do. That will be our challenge and we would certainly try our best.
Assessment on Hyderabad and importance of getting a winning start
We would say that winning start is important we all say that and then win, loss or draw we would be making a case for the next game. We want to get three points on board of course, I am really looking for a good performance now and let that lead us to a good result. So we’ll look at performance first. In terms of Hyderabad, they’ve got a new coach, new players and they are also evolving. So to dig deep at anything in this moment is difficult. We have done our homework, we have taken on board, things we think are developing trend. We won’t be adjusting our game for them and would concentrate on our own performance.
Indian options in the team and role of Shubham Sarangi this season
I think all our Indian players are quite young. We don’t have any experienced Indian lad in this team. All of the young lads have really got to have a steep learning curve. They can learn from players like Steven and even the actual games and they can learn by getting information from the coaching staff. Though they don’t have experience like playing in ten seasons, they have to act like they are experienced while playing.
On Shubham: I think he is a good player at the moment and I am expecting him to develop as a very good player. If he deals with his problems in the game in a positive way then I think we’ll have a very good player in our hands
Preparation before the big game
We are never as prepared as you want to be but with the time allotted, I don’t think the players could have done much more and if we try to throw more information at them I think we will probably slow down the process even more. Let them grasp what we got at the moment and continue to develop for the first 5-6 games. Hopefully we will pickup points during the time so that we can encourage to keep on the process.
If the team has enough depth to tackle injuries and fitness of foreign players after quarantine
Injuries in every league has gone up by 250% and this has been the case in the Indian league also. So this is a challenge to keep the freshness among the players and a challenge for the coaches to maintain rotation.
In many cases we have young players replacing young players. We will have to be lucky with some of our experienced players who have to had a little bit of feelings for when we can and want to rest them. The whole story is a very unique challenge that we have now which we want to face full on, we have to use all the sports science we have, data and statistics and hopefully the squad will stand up because it’s gonna be needed more than ever.
Injury news ahead of match, any absentees
We have the lack of availability of foreign players due to quarantine. Players coming straight out of quarantine so their fitness levels are low. Jacob[Tratt] won’t be available for the first game. We will look at a couple that we will wait and see before the game. Jerry won’t be available for the game so we have our challenges up front. But again I am probably echoing what the other coaches are saying so it is not a case of feeling sorry for ourselves, it is basically finding a solution.
Any problems in acclimatizing
No problems. If you keep thinking about the weather it could affect your performance. As for me I just get on with it. You just deal with that.
Responsibilities faced after becoming captain of odisha fc on and off the pitch
Big responsibility. Obviously certain standards, values, making sure to take off pressure from your teammates and leading by example. When I do that hopefully my teammates will follow.
Using experience gained at playing at big club like newcastle united to help odisha fc
Obviously working with a lot of managers in your training and taking out the best bits and you try to bring that to the team as well as learning from Stuart, with the experience he’s got, it developed my game and helped me to improve me as a player and it’s fantastic for the young Indian players getting that information and benefiting them
The ex-teammates looking to play against
My ex-teammates with David Williams, Gary Hooper , Roy Krishna. We have seen what Dave and Roy have done here last season. They were fantastic, top professionals and their performances last year got them the success. I think Gary Hooper- his CV speaks for himself. I think it is test for the defenders of ISL this year. It will be a great challenge.
Partnership with Jacob Tratt. Responsiblity as one of the main people in team’s defence
It will be a roller-coaster. There will be highs and lows but we are gonna stick together.The experience that myself brings along with the foreign players and we’ll pass that information to the young players and it’s gonna be a long season and the boys are excited.
Thoughts about living in bio-bubble for whole season and impact of mental health of the players
The lads are sacrificing by staying away from their families. So they know what they are doing here. Success is what we are all here for and so far so good. The staff behind the scenes are making sure that the players are always busy and their health is all good