‘Odisha have had chances to beat big teams’ – Stuart Baxter hoping for a positive result against Bengaluru FC

The Odisha coach feels that Bengaluru interim Naushad Moosa is tackling the situation well post head coach Carles Cuadrat’s departure…

Odisha have had a few encouraging performances in the 2020-21 Indian Super League (ISL) of late but there haven’t been enough of such matches to lift them off the bottom spot.

The Kalinga Warriors have picked just one win this season in the form of a 4-2 win against Kerala Blasters and have just seven points from 12 games. They will be looking for a positive result as they face Bengaluru FC on Sunday. The Blues emerged victorious by a 2-1 margin the last time the two sides met in December, when the Blues were led by Carles Cuadrat who has since parted ways with the club after a poor run of form.

However, the Blues haven’t picked a win in three matches under interim coach Naushad Moosa as well.

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“It’s always difficult to know how a team is going to react after a coach leaves. Sometimes they become enthusiastic, sometimes there is a little chaos, and sometimes it’s not a great difference,” Baxter opined.

“But I think the coach has got a job on his hands because it’s a big club. The coach comes in now and tries to put his own spin on things. He doesn’t always want to do the same things, and that’s always a difficult task. So I think he is tackling it well at the moment but it’s always a problem,” he added.

Bengaluru are currently enduring their longest winless run of six matches (D1, L5) and Baxter feels that his side can beat any team.

“We had chances to beat bigger clubs like ATK [Mohun Bagan] but to do that against anybody – not just Bengaluru – we have to defend well, take our chances and play our own game. If we do that with quality, I think we have shown that we can run everybody close,” he said.

Diego Mauricio, Hyderabad vs Odisha

Odisha have roped in Rakesh Pradhan on loan from NorthEast United for the rest of the season. The left back made his debut in the 1-1 draw against Hyderabad last Tuesday.

“I thought he (Pradhan) made a confident debut. He got forward a lot more and exploited that flank maybe more than Hendry (Antonay) has been doing. He’s gotta know the balances within our team but he got forward and his natural left foot helped us. So I thought it (Pradhan’s Odisha debut) was a good one and we have to see what we do in the next game. 

“We have been best when we tried to make a few changes. We’ll look at the energy levels of the players and make a decision based on that but we don’t want to make a lot of changes. The team that we’ve been putting together has been coming together,” Baxter felt.

The team has relied heavily on Diego Mauricio for goals. The Brazilian has scored half of Odisha’s 12 goals so far this season.

“Football is a team sport and there are individuals in that team. I want every individual of our team to feel that he has the right to be himself. Diego is best when he’s part of the team but he does best what he does well. So my job is to get Diego into a situation on the field where he’s good, and to get him in a frame of mind that feels he can express himself. When we do that, Diego is a valuable player for us,” the Odisha coach stated.


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