ISL: "We have started well in the league but we can't be relaxed," says Odisha midfielder Javi Hernandez
In an exclusive interview with The Bridge, the Spaniard spoke in depth on various topics.
Odisha FC has started their Indian Super League 2020-21 campaign with two consecutive victories. Kiko Ramirez's team has scored ten goals in their last two matches and the protagonist of their team is none other than Javi Hernandez who has directly contributed in half of them. The Spaniard was brought in by Odisha earlier this season. Since coming on he has been in red hot form for the Juggernauts and was instrumental in both the matches. If Odisha has to qualify for the playoffs, Javi's form will be very important. In an exclusive interview with The Bridge, the Spaniard spoke in-depth on various topics.
Javi was an integral part of the ATK Mohun Bagan squad last season. He finished second in the league and reached the finals of ISL. He joined Odisha FC before this season and the Spaniard had a very smooth transition in his new team. "I am very happy to be here. This is a very amazing and serious project and we are all working very hard," told the Spaniard. He went on to say, "The transition has been easy for me because I am playing in the same country. It was more difficult when I came to India for the first time."
On Odisha's bright start
Odisha FC went through a rough patch in the last couple of seasons. This season, they have a good start and are looking like one of the best teams in the league. Speaking about their great start, the Spaniard who has been the key for Odisha's success sounded very focused about their next games. The playmaker opined, "It is too early to speak about anything. We have to go a long way. Yes, indeed, we started very well but we can't relax now. We have to focus on the next games. After our good start if we lose the next few matches because of relaxation that will not be good for us. So it's early to say about much but we are on the right track."
About his new position
Previously under Antonio Lopez Habas, Javi was given a deep midfield role. The Spaniard who is a tireless worker on the field was always in the thick of the things by either breaking up plays or controlling the tempo. But since joining Odisha, Javi has shown his other side of the game. Kiko Ramirez has given Javi Hernandez a more free attacking role and the results are already visible. The Odisha midfielder has already netted 3 goals and assisted twice within two matches. While speaking about this matter, Javi gave his insights, " Yesterday I played in no.9 role and in the first match I was playing just behind the striker so I am getting more chances to score. In the last season and my debut season, I played in midfield. I was far away from the box and it was different work altogether."
On his favorite position
The versatile midfielder throughout his career has played in many different positions. When asked about his favourite position the Spaniard quipped, " I can play in different positions and this is a good thing that I have done it throughout my career. But I am more comfortable playing as a playmaker just behind the striker. Wherever the coach asks me to play, I always try to give my best and help the team."
On being consistent from set-pieces
Since his debut in Hero India Super League Javi Hernandez has emerged as one of the best set-piece takers in the Indian Super League. He has already scored one goal for each free-kick and Corner. Javi has also assisted two goals from corners. While speaking about his formula of success from set pieces, Javi explained "We train a lot of variations of set pieces in training sessions with our coach. Then we try to replicate that in the game. I usually mix it up. You will have only one or two opportunities in the whole, so your aim should be to do well whenever you are getting the chance."
On Kiko Ramirez
Just like Javi Hernandez, Odisha FC's gaffer Kiko Ramirez also joined the team only this season. Under his tutelage, Odisha has started very well and are looking like one of the best teams in the league. While speaking about his manager, the Spaniard told, " He is a very good coach. Although I know him since my Poland days, this is my first year working with him. He tried to be always close with all the players and motivate them. Under him, everyone has worked very hard and wants to give their everything for the team."
On Kerala Blasters match
After winning two consecutive matches, Odisha will face Kerala in the next match. The Juggernauts will be aiming to win their third consecutive match of the season. While speaking their next match Javi looked very focused and the Spaniard wants to continue their winning streak. "We will start our preparations for the next match from today. We will be prepared for the game. We are focused and we want to win again. They are a very good team and it will be a difficult match."
Expectations from the season
After their rough patch in the last two seasons, the future looks bright for the OFC this time around. The Juggernauts will be already starting to keep their hopes high and will expect more from their team. While explaining his expectations from this season, the Spaniard opined, "We will have to go match by match. Last season was hard for the team. Now we have started well in the league but we can't be relaxed. We have to be focused and keep thinking about the next match. If we can win the next game, we will have to think about the next one then. After 6-7 matches, we will see what the team can achieve."