Odisha FC Head Coach Stuart Baxter stated that he expected their Indian Super League (ISL) 2020-21 match against Jamshedpur FC to be nothing "less than a difficult game." Odisha and Jamshedpur play each other in the second leg of the fixture at the GMC Stadium in Bambolim, Goa on Monday. Baxter said he was aware that an Owen Coyle team never gives up and is "very competitive".
"I think, both before we played them in the 2-2 draw and after, everything tells me that Owen's (Coyle) team used to be very competitive. They don't give up and they have played good football at times and they have got some good players. I don't expect anything less than a difficult game," Baxter said in the pre-match press conference.
"We have got to talk about just getting that next game and hopefully, we will get a victory. And, that's what we have been trying to do almost since the season started. But, any talk about playoffs even five or six weeks ago is wrong because we were looking at the pathway and not the destination. We were looking at what we are doing now and not what could we do in another two months' time. So, at the moment, we should be fully focused on every game and just start to turn those good performances that end in a draw to good performances that result in a win," he further added.
When asked about the performance of the defenders in the last few games, the former South Africa national team coach explained, "On paper, we have played in a more attacking formation and people always rate the defensive performance by how many goals you concede. I think that the whole team has taken part in the defense in a better way. The whole team has had a better defensive structure even though we have taken the risk of having a lot of space behind us sometimes. We have been defending better than the people have said."
Odisha FC recently reached on an agreement with ATK Mohun Bagan for a loan-swap deal and got Brad Inman for the remaining part of the tournament. Speaking about the 29-year-old midfielder, the OFC Head Coach stated, "Firstly he (Inman) needs to understand how we want him to play. We have to get used to him. Then once he has got that information, I am expecting him to be a valuable asset to the team."
Odisha FC had roped in left-back Rakesh Pradhan on loan from NorthEast United a few days ago and he has been impressive on the field. The defender accompanied Baxter for the press conference and said, "I think it's a new experience for me working under a new gaffer. From Day 1, I feel very positive around the team. Something is very new about the coach is that he motivates the team. It doesn't matter where we are standing; everyone is giving their 100%. Everyone is fighting for their place. I feel I am fighting for my place every day and trying to improve as a player."
"I have that freedom on the left side. There's a wide range of freedom for me for walking up and down. Maybe I will improve but I want to say that I haven't given my 100 per cent yet. It's kind of a dream coming true for me defending with Steven (Taylor) and learning from his experience. Every day, I am learning more about defending."
He concluded with a message for the Odisha FC fans saying, "We will give our 100 per cent and we will try to push ourselves up on the table. Keep believing."