Odisha FC's Diawandou Diagne has revealed how coach Josep Gambou motivated them after their nightmarish start to the ISL where they won a solitary game in the first five matches. He stressed how the people of Odisha vouched for them when they were in dire straits and never lost hope in the team.
Odisha FC is now a potential contender for the semi-final berth, but it was unlikely in the initial stages when the Josep Gambou-coached team hit several road-blocks and were on the verge of losing track on its first voyage in the league. But they came back strongly having won five matches in quick succession in the latter stages. Diagne, one of the Odisha’s most-prized possessions, recalls how the coach kept motivating the team to stage such a comeback.
“Even when we were losing, the coach used to tell us to believe in ourselves and keep fighting. No team will play good football and not get results. And now everybody can see the results. The team is together, fighting for each other — the coach, the staff, and all the people in Odisha are fighting for the team. And the team is fighting on the field to get all the points we can,” said Diwandou Diagne while speaking to SportsCafe.
Even though Odisha played their first three home matches at the Balewadi Stadium in Pune, they shifted to their base in Bhubaneswar later on. The Senegalese admitted that the home support has acted as a catalyst and is one of the sole reasons for their dynamic show in the ISL lately.
“Since we’ve come to the Kalinga Stadium, we’re seeing a lot of support from the fans. They are pushing us every time, every single moment. Even when we are going out with our families, they are pushing us, saying, ‘We believe in you.’ This makes us strong and we’re seeing how important the fans are,” added the midfielder.
Regarding the prospects of Odisha FC qualifying for the play-offs, Diagne stressed on the fact on how competitive the other teams are and with the league approaching its business end, each of the top teams is going to play out of their skins to bag valuable points to their tally.
“Every team is tough to beat because everybody is fighting for every last point with just four games to go in the league. All the top teams are really tough to beat because they are good with set pieces and have experienced players,” said Diagne.
Odisha FC is currently at the fourth position in the league standings with 21 points from 15 matches, with 6 wins and 3 draws. They need to win at least two of their remaining three matches to seal a berth in the play-offs.