The Nizams would need a victory to make sure they cement their place at the top for the time being. The Spaniard felt Odisha FC remain a strong outfit despite the change in the head coach’s chair and is not expecting an easy ride for his team. Here are the excerpts from his press conference;
Manolo Marquez spoke about how important it was to win the last game against SC East Bengal after a series of draws.
“It’s always important when you win a game. And yes, we won the last game and at this moment we are with 20 points but we have to continue. There are eight games to play. Every game is a battle. Even the other day, in the first half where we led 3-0, there were moments when SC East Bengal was better than us.
“But of course, we have very good players and a very good team and finally, we could win the game. After a draw, if you win, it’s fantastic but if you lose, these draws aren’t good. But we know how football works and now we are confident in our team.”
Coach Manolo was asked if there are any areas where the team can improve after the last game against SC East Bengal. He also spoke about if there are any areas of concern for the team.
“Now the problem is that we don’t know which players are available till the last moment. If there are Covid-19 positives at the last moment like the other day, then we have to change at the last minute. There are always areas to improve. But sometimes you have to put players out of their position and see what happens.
“There are always areas to improve but at this moment we are the team with the most number of goals and the team that has conceded the second-lowest number of goals. But of course, we have areas to improve because a perfect team doesn’t exist.”
Odisha FC are now under the leadership of coach Kino Garcia. Manolo spoke about the differences that he expects from the opponents as compared to the reverse match that Hyderabad FC won 6-1.
“I don’t see too much difference. The score was 6-1 in that match but if you remember the game, when they equalized, they had clear chances to score the second goal. Fortunately for us, they didn’t score and we scored in the last minute of the first half and the first minute of the second half. The game was finished.“
“Now they changed the coach. Coach Kino wasn’t on the bench yet. I wish that he can be there tomorrow but at the moment, the team is very similar. They play more or less play the same style. Maybe they press a bit more. The wingers’ Jerry and Nandha are the same. Javi Hernandez plays as an attacking midfielder or sometimes as a false nine. Thoiba is the central midfielder. Now Sahil Panwar is in better shape than the first match against us as it was his first match but more or less the style of the team is very similar. In my opinion, the coach doesn’t play, it’s the players who play the game.”
Manolo shared his thoughts on how Aniket Jadhav has been performing this season and how much has he grown since the pre-season when he joined Hyderabad FC from Jamshedpur FC.
“Aniket is a player with a lot of qualities. But he is young and can improve in a lot of areas, especially in decision-making. But he is a player who with his qualities in the future can be an important player in Indian football because he is a player who can score goals, who can dribble, who can cross. I think he is an important player in our team at this moment.”
Bartholomew Ogbeche returned to the team and scored a hat-trick and this was also the first time he started together with Javier Siverio. Marquez shared his thoughts on the pairing of the strikers.
“I had said before that we had to find the correct moment for both players to play together. Both played ninety minutes three days back so we have to see if we start both or only one of them. It’s difficult but we have to decide the line-up today.”
“With covid cases and other issues in every camp, it is almost impossible to name the line-up till the final minute. We also cannot be sure of the opponent team’s lineup till very late.”
Coach Manolo spoke about if it impacts the preparation and the performance of every side in the ISL this season.
“We are presently top of the table so we can’t give any excuse. But the first priority should be the health of the players. I am sure that they (ISL officials) are trying their best to keep the competition running. But I feel at this moment all the 11 teams have positive cases in their respective camps. I don’t think it’s the correct moment to think about football, but it’s a very difficult decision to cancel the league at this moment, it’s a very difficult decision for the Indian Super League.
“I don’t know which is the best option, but for sure at this moment it’s more of a competition mentally than a sports competition. Although we are happy and satisfied that we are at the top. But of course, we know that mentally it’s very hard for everyone from the players to the staff since we are in a bubble all the time. To be more precise we are mostly in our room except for the time when we have training sessions and the games on the matchday.
“It’s similar to living in jail. We cannot go out or order food from outside of the hotel. We cannot go to the beach despite it being very close. At present, It’s a very difficult situation mentally. If you are fighting for something on the table then it’s very challenging. Maybe it’s easier for the teams who are in the last positions on the table because they will have nothing to lose. But whatever the situation it is we must not give up easily because we are professionals. We have to accept the decision of the ISL league committee although it’s very difficult to manage in the present situation.”
Follow our website for all the latest updates on Indian Football.