Odisha FC had a disastrous campaign in the previous season of the Indian Super League (ISL) as they finished on the 11th spot. They managed to win just two matches and conceded a whopping 44 goals, the worst defensive record in the league.
They needed to make changes and so they did. They have got in Kiko Ramirez as their new manager and an entirely new foreign contingent to turn around their fortunes. Let us have a look at their squad for the upcoming season.
Odisha FC SquadGoalkeepers: Arshdeep Singh, Ravi Kumar, Kamaljit Singh. Editors’ Picks
Defenders: Gaurav Bora, Lalruathara, Sahil Panwar, Hendry Antonay, Lalhrezuala Sailung, Sebastian, Hector Rodas, Sahil Panwar, Deven, Victor Mongil.
Midfielders: Javi Hernandez, Jerry Mawihmingthanga, Vinit Rai, Nandakumar Sekar, Isak Ralte, Thoiba Singh, Paul Ramfangzauva, Liridon Krasniqi, Isaac Vanmalsawma, Nikhil Raj.
Forwards: Aridai Cabrera, Jonathas, Akshunna Tyagi, Daniel Lalhlimpuia.
What are the strengths of Odisha FC? Odisha FC have got some quality players at the centre of the park. Javi Hernandez will add composure and stability whereas Vinit Rai will look to partner the Spaniard. Hernandez is a familiar face in ISL and during his tenure with ATK and then subsequently with ATK Mohun Bagan he has already proven his mettle. If these two players can hold the midfield, Odisha will hope for better performances.
In attack, the goal-scoring responsibility will primarily rest on Brazilian forward Jonathas. He had a decent season with Hatta in the UAE Pro League where he scored six goals in 10 matches. He has the experience of playing in some of the popular clubs across Europe like Elche, Real Sociedad, and Hannover 96. In the 2019-20 season, he scored seven goals in 14 matches for Elche in the Segunda division. Whereas in 2014-15 he netted 14 times in 34 games in La Liga for the same club including a few strikes including braces against Espanyol and Athletic Bilbao.
There is, however, Jerry Mawihmingthunga who performed well as a winger last season. Odisha will hope that the winger will conitnue to build on his performances.
They also have a surprise package in Akshunna Tyagi, who has been promoted to the senior team after impressing in the domestic youth league. The 19-year-old scored 20 of the 45 goals Odisha scored in just 14 games in the AIFF Elite League. This could be a breakout season for the youngster.
What are the weaknesses of Odisha FC? Odisha FC have done their homework in pre-season in getting a new coach and a set of overseas players, and yet there is a hint of inexperience in the squad that might come to haunt them. Apart from Javi and Victor Mongil, none of them has played on Indian soil before and settling down in ISL will be a challenge for them.
Moreover, players like Aridai Cabrera, Liridon Krasniqi have not been in the best of form in the previous season. Cabrera for Las Palmas in the Segunda division had three goals and two assists in 21 appearances whereas Krasniqi during his loan spell from Johor Darul Ta’zim to Newcastle Jets played just 184 minutes of football.
Moreover, their Indian contingent lacks a bit of experience. Players like Gourav Bora, Paul Ramfangzauva, Nandakumar Sekar were tipped to be the next big things in Indian football but have not lived up to expectations so far. They had the poorest defence in ISL in 2020-21, and it remains to be seen how Hector Rodas and Victor Mongil perform at the back.
Mongil did not impress with ATK, whereas Rodas joins the ISL outfit from Cultural Leonesa who ply their trade in the Spanish third division. Even under the sticks, they lack a safe pair of hands as both Arshdeep Singh and Kamaljit Singh are prone to making mistakes.
Who are the key players of Odisha FC? The three key players of Odisha FC who might be the difference-makers are Javi Hernandez, Jonathas, and Vinit Rai. What are the fixtures of Odisha FC? All matches are to kick off at 7:30 pm IST. Date Fixture Venue November 24 Odisha FC vs Bengaluru FC Tilak Maidan Stadium November 30 Odisha FC vs SC East Bengal Tilak Maidan Stadium December 05 Kerala Blasters FC vs Odisha FC Tilak Maidan Stadium December 10 Odisha FC vs NorthEast United FC Tilak Maidan Stadium December 14 Odisha FC vs Jamshedpur FC Tilak Maidan Stadium December 18 Chennaiyin FC vs Odisha FC Tilak Maidan Stadium December 24 Odisha FC vs FC Goa Tilak Maidan Stadium December 28 Hyderabad FC vs Odisha FC Athletic Stadium, Bambolim January 3 Odisha FC vs Mumbai City FC Tilak Maidan Stadium January 8 ATK Mohun Bagan vs Odisha FC JLN Stadium, Fatorda