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ISL 2020-21: Stuart Baxter wants Odisha FC to learn from ATK Mohun Bagan heartbreak

07:45 GMT 05/12/2020
Stuart Baxter Odisha ISL 7
The English coach explained why the club hasn’t scored as many goals as they would have liked to…

Odisha FC are up against Mumbai City FC next as they continue the search for their first win of the Indian Super League (ISL) season. 

The Juggernauts haven't had the best of starts to the season under Stuart Baxter, falling to two defeats and managing a draw in three games so far. The previous game, against ATK Mohun Bagan, was a bit of a kick in the teeth for them, having been so close to managing a draw, only for Roy Krishna to score a 95th-minute winner. 

Baxter is hoping for a response from his team against a strong Mumbai City FC who seem to be hitting their stride after a 3-0 win over East Bengal last time out. 

"It is a difficult one to take. You just want to get back on the horse and look forward to the next one. We didn't deserve the result but we have to make sure we get what we deserve in the next game," the British tactician said. 

But there were a few positives from that game for Baxter. Not only did Odisha defend well for large parts of the game, they also looked good on the ball. However, poor decisions in the final third and a lack of cohesion meant their attacks were not fruitful.  

The former 67-year-old is looking for improvement from his charges. 

"The final third is about finishing and combination plays and we have been working on those. Our possession has not been of the best quality. We don't get enough bodies inside the box for crosses or make runs around the box to move defenders for combination play.

"The possession has got better and we will get the number of players forward that we need. We will start translating them into goals."

Baxter wants his team to take advantage of the situations when they are in dominance. He cited the example of the game against ATK Mohun Bagan where they didn’t seize the initiative and ultimately, paid the price right at the death with a goal from a set-piece.
“If you looked at the ATK Mohun Bagan game what we needed was just a little bit of luck. We played well enough. We did enough to get a good result. If we didn't win at least, we should have got a 0-0. We did not get it and there are reasons for that. But we have got to translate those periods when we are better into strikes on goal,” said Baxter.

The former South Africa national coach analysed the style of play employed by Sergio Lobera at Mumbai City FC. He noted that Ahmed Jahouh and Rowllin Borges build the play from defence to attack by stretching the opposition with their distribution.
“I think in the way they play, they open the field up. They make it big. They have got a couple of influential players who take it from the back and try to break your lines. Then they have people who are quite good on the ball. So, they don't get punished for being spread out.
“We don't want to park the bus, neither we will open ourselves up to their strengths. It is a question of managing the spaces and having enough players to becoming a threat. We don't want them to feel that they are on the front foot all the time, relaxing and enjoying. We want them to feel that if they stretch themselves, we can cause trouble to them,” reasoned Baxter.
However, Odisha do have a concern of their own as influential attacker Marcelinho is a doubtful starter against Mumbai City FC. Jerry Mawihmingthanga's involvement is also doubtful.
“Merci's case is not certain. We will take a call tonight. We won't take chances with him as it is a long season.”