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Saturday, April 20, 2024

Punjab FC are one of the favourites to reach playoffs: Sergio Lobera

Date:

Odisha FC head coach Sergio Lobera is expecting a difficult game against Punjab FC as they face the Shers in the Indian Super League (ISL) match at the Kalinga Stadium here on Tuesday.

The Kalinga Warriors were handed a boost in the race for the League Shield with Mohun Bagan SG losing to Chennaiyin FC but Lobera’s men need to win all their remaining matches to have a chance of making the playoffs.

Punjab FC find themselves in a similar situation where they have a chance to qualify for the playoffs in their very first season. Lobera thus expects a difficult match for his team against Staikos Vergetis’ side who have found form lately.

“Punjab FC are a very good team. It’s not easy to adapt to ISL in the first year. They had some problems at the start but now they are competing very well,” he said.

“They are one of the favourites to reach the playoffs. It will be a difficult game against them,” Lobera said.

“We need to be loyal to our style of play. We need to operate as a team as we are working very well as a unit. We need to focus on ourselves. Every match is different, every situation is different. Every team is playing all remaining games as a final as each team is playing for something,” he continued.

Lobera heaped praise on his players for giving the team a chance to compete for silverware in multiple competitions and is looking forward to the final part of the season.

“We are very excited for the final three games. We have a chance to fight for everything. We need to focus on these games,” he said.

“The players have done an amazing job (so far). It has been a very difficult season playing in all three competitions,” Lobera added.

The Kalinga Warriors will be eyeing nothing less than three points against Punjab FC in what will be their final home game of the league stage this season. Odisha FC have been unbeaten at home this season winning seven out of the ten games so far at the venue. Lobera thanked the fans for their support during the season.

“To play in Bhubaneswar is something special. When we play here we feel the support of our fans which is very important to us,” the Spaniard said.

“We want to finish the competition here by winning games. We are sure that the fans will be here in the most important period of the season, pushing us to get three important points against Punjab FC. Loyalty is important and not the number and I think we have loyal fans,” he added.

The Bhubaneswar-based side have scored just one goal in their last four matches in all competitions but Lobera isn’t too concerned by the statistic.

“We are scoring a lot of goals with a good goal difference in the league,” Lobera said.

“My biggest concern as a coach is whether we are creating chances. We created plenty of chances in the last game. We need to be more clinical. We keep the ball and dominate the games in the last few phases but finally, we need to be more clinical,” he added.

Odisha FC goalkeeper Lalthuammawia Ralte accompanied head coach Lobera in the pre-match press conference and shed light on his relationship with senior goalkeeper Amrinder Singh.

“I think we have been together for 3-4 seasons with different teams. I really like to push him in training for the top spot. We are really close on and off the pitch and we push each other a lot,” he said.

Ralte also expressed confidence in his team to do the job against Punjab FC on Tuesday.

“It will be a competitive match against Punjab FC. All players are ready to give everything for Odisha FC. I think we will get three points on Tuesday,” he signed off by saying.

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