July 31, 2021

‘Odisha will never give up’ – Gerry Peyton confident of a double over Kerala Blasters

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The former Fulham goalkeeper has handpicked Bengaluru’s Gurpreet Singh Sandhu as his favourite custodian in India…

Odisha are placed at the bottom of the points table in the 2020-21 edition of the Indian Super League (ISL) as they prepare to face Kerala Blasters on Thursday.

With five games to go, they have only one win to show for their current campaign and it’s the 4-2 result over the Blasters from earlier this season.

Odisha could claim a few unwanted records this season. They could end up with the most defeats in a season (13 – jointly held by NorthEast United and Chennaiyin in the fourth and fifth ISL season respectively) and the fewest points in a season (9 – Chennaiyin, 2018-19).

“I think it’s been a difficult season for players. Looking at coming in when we did and the way we want to play and develop, both Stuart (Baxter, former head coach) and me wanted to play in a certain way,” interim coach Gerald Peyton looked back at Odisha’s season.

“I think we’ve been (competitive) in a lot of games. Even if we look at the last game (4-1 defeat to ATK Mohun Bagan), up to the 82nd minute when we got the penalty, we have been in the game. We scored a screaming goal [through] Cole Alexander after Paul (Ramfangzauva) hit the post,” he went on to express his disappointment at some of the refereeing decisions that have gone against Odisha.

“If you have a look, [Sandesh] Jhingan had a ball hit his arm and carried on. Cole got the ball on the arm (resulting in a penalty) and the whole season for me has been very small percentages in some of the decision making and at crucial times in the game, things that have gone against us. I thought in the last game, in the last 10 minutes, we didn’t carry on passing the ball and trying to go behind. So I take that one,” the Englishman continued.

“The message is that we will keep fighting. We will never give up, even though it’s been a very demanding season and a lot of things have happened. We will continue to give everything we possibly can and to all our fans, ‘thank you for supporting and staying with us.’ It’s been very tough on the squad and everybody connected with Odisha but we are focused to win games. I can promise you that we will finish the season as strong as possible.”

Talking about Kerala Blasters as an opponent, Peyton is confident that Odisha can do the double over their southern counterpart.

“I think they have got some good players. When I go back and look at how they played (when Odisha beat Kerala 4-2), tactically we will play similarly. We know how they play and we will match them in every area. They play a 4-4-2 and we will probably play the same. We’re going to make it difficult for them and I think if you’re asking me ‘can we beat them?’, yes, we can do the double over them,” he declared.

The former Arsenal goalkeeping coach who mentored the likes of Jens Lehmann, Manuel Almunia and Wojciech Szczęsny during his time in England feels that Gurpreet Singh Sandhu is the best goalkeeper in India. He also gave his opinion on Odisha goalkeeper Arshdeep Singh.

“I think Arsh has been our most consistent Indian player this season. He’s had some very good performances. Maybe in the last game, he made a few uncharacteric mistakes but his overall performances have been very good.

“I like the Bengaluru goalkeeper, Gurpreet. I think technically, his reading of the game, he likes to come for crosses, his distribution is good and I like a lot about him. I think he is the best (goalkeeper) I’ve seen in India. He stands out head and shoulders above the other goalkeepers and Arsh has done particularly well this season. Arsh has looked as good as any goalkeeper this season.”