Biggest challenge is to perform better than last season, says Kino Garcia – Exclusive Interview

Biggest challenge is to perform better than last season, says Kino Garcia – Exclusive Interview

Joining Odisha FC and challenges ahead

On the decision to join the Bhuvneshwar-based club, former Valencia CF youth teams’ coach said, “Before joining Odisha, I had some offers from Spain. But, after knowing about the project by the DV7 group, I decided that it was a key to joining Odisha FC. It’s a long-term project and has a clear path that we have to follow with the team and to make an impact in India and Indian football. When I received the call from DV7 and later from Odisha FC and spoke to the owners and the president Raj Athwal it was an easy decision for me. At that time I was indeed head of coaches development in Valencia and I had to leave that work and come to India.”

Speaking about the challenges the team would have to face, the Spaniard indicated, “The biggest challenge will be performing better than last season. We know that it was very bad. The players are really committed, they have a good attitude. The challenge will be to be consistent in the pitch. Not conceding many goals, having the personality to control the match and then trying to reach the highest position in the table.”

Kino Garcia with Hector Rodas, Victor Mongil and Head coach Kiko Ramirez

Head coach Kiko Ramirez and the foreign players

“Kiko is an experienced coach who has worked in different countries. He easily adapts to the project. He also wants to develop young players. He can lead, he can manage, but he is also close to the players and has a good relationship, especially in this bubble situation. I am really comfortable working with him in training sessions and I think he is a great appointment by the club,” Kino is confident about head coach Kiko Ramirez.

Odisha FC decided not to retain any of the foreign players from last season. They roped in ISL experienced Javi Hernandez and Victor Mongil. Spaniards Aridai Cabrera and Hector Rodas, Brazilian striker Jonathas and Malaysian midfielder Liridon Krasniqi are the other foreign recruitments.

“About foreigners, we are really satisfied. I think that we bought really good players. We have five players that speak Spanish. Jonathas our last arrival, is a wonderful striker, he can bring the team to a different level. Javi (Hernandez) and Victor (Mongil) are former ISL champions, they have the experience of winning this trophy. Also, Hector (Rodas), an experienced centre-back who has experience playing in the first division in Spain. He is a great leader, he will surely help the Indian players to develop under his guidance. Liridon (Krasniqi) has amazing skill and is good with the ball. We are happy about the foreigners, they have a good bond with the Indian players,” Kino said.

On any injury concerns, he declared, “We have José Mascarós, a well-known fitness coach in Spain who has worked for five first division clubs. Under his guidance, we didn’t have any injury problems in the pre-season. The team is in good shape and is fit.”

When asked about the toughest opponent the team has to face, Kino had no doubts, “Of course, Mumbai. They won the league last season. They are the rivals, everyone wants to beat them. They are going to be the most difficult team. As every year, ATK Mohun Bagan will be there. Every team will fight for a spot in the top four.”

Message to the Odisha FC fans

For the second consecutive season, the fans will not be there in the stands to cheer for the team. Kino Garcia concluded with a message to the Juggernauts.

“We are really happy about how the Juggernauts support us, they are good fans of Odisha. We want to make them feel proud, it is very important for the club. We will fight for that and play good football.”

Odisha FC will begin their ISL campaign against Bengaluru FC on November 24 in the Tilak Maidan Stadium.

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