The Indian Super League (ISL) 2023-24 season ended on a bitter note for Odisha FC with their heart-wrenching defeat in the semi-finals against Mohun Bagan Super Giant. Yet, amidst the disappointment, there are rays of hope for the future.

The Kalinga Warriors finished the 2022-23 season strongly, securing their first qualification to the ISL playoffs before clinching their first-ever silverware by defeating Bengaluru FC in the Super Cup final. 

To bolster their squad, Odisha FC enlisted the expertise of one of the league's most successful coaches, Sergio Lobera. Alongside the Spaniard, the team welcomed key foreign signings such as Mourtada Fall, Roy Krishna, and Ahmed Jahouh.

Despite a sluggish start to the season, the Bhubaneswar-based outfit experienced some positive moments, including maintaining an impressive home record, reaching the knockouts of the AFC Cup in their debut campaign, reaching the finals of the Kalinga Super Cup, and making the ISL semi-final for the first time. As the club reflects on a gruelling yet promising season, it's time to analyze how the Kalinga Warriors performed in the league.


Pl: 22; W: 11; L: 5; D: 6; Pts: 39; GF: 35; GA: 23

Odisha FC began their campaign brightly with a comfortable 2-0 victory over Chennaiyin FC in the opening matchweek, followed by a thrilling 2-2 draw with Mumbai City FC at home. The Kalinga Warriors then suffered two consecutive defeats away from home against FC Goa and Kerala Blasters FC. However, Lobera’s side quickly turned the tide with a remarkable performance at home against Bengaluru FC, overturning a two-goal deficit to secure a 3-2 victory.

Odisha FC enjoyed a 13-game unbeaten run, putting them at the top of the league at one point. However, their unbeaten streak came to an unexpected end against Chennaiyin FC, who scored a late goal through Jordan Murray, dealing a blow to Odisha FC’s League Shield hopes. They dropped two more points away to Bengaluru FC in the following matchweek, further complicating their situation. Nonetheless, they bounced back with a convincing 3-1 win at home against Punjab FC, concluding the league stage unbeaten at home with eight wins and three draws. But, they suffered two successive defeats on the road and settled for a fourth-place finish in the league.

The Kalinga Warriors once again demonstrated their dominance at home in the playoffs, securing a comeback win against Kerala Blasters FC in the Knockouts to reach the semi-finals for the first time. They continued their strong performance with a 2-1 victory against Mohun Bagan Super Giant in the first leg of the semi-final. However, their campaign came to a disappointing end in the second leg with a 2-0 defeat to the Mariners.


Lobera’s team surged through the season, largely attributed to their dominance on home turf. Odisha FC transformed the Kalinga Stadium into a fortress, remaining unbeaten at home throughout the season, including their two playoff matches.

Playing 13 matches at home (including playoffs), the Kalinga Warriors clinched victory in 10 encounters and settled for draws in the remaining three.

Their home ground witnessed a staggering 27 goals, averaging an impressive 2.07 goals per game while conceding a mere 11 goals in front of their home crowd.

The striking partnership of Roy Krishna and Diego Mauricio further bolstered the team's performance, with the duo contributing 13 and 11 goals respectively in the league, accounting for more than 60% of the team's total goals scored this season.


Odisha FC faced significant hurdles in generating goal-scoring opportunities during the league stages. Despite being under the management of Lobera, known for orchestrating ample chances for their opponents, the Kalinga Warriors could only create 179 chances throughout the league. They ranked second-lowest in chances created, with only NorthEast United FC (173) behind them.

This is one vital area they surely would like to rectify in the next season, and they surely took this into account during the playoffs, where they created 33 chances in three matches.

Best Player

Roy Krishna

This time last season, there were doubts about Krishna being out of form, as he endured a difficult season with Bengaluru FC, where he couldn't perform according to his standards, managing only six goals. However, upon joining Odisha FC ahead of the season, he took up a new challenge and he experienced a remarkable resurgence, scoring 13 goals and assisting three others in the 2023-24 season. Although he topped the goal-scoring chart alongside Dimitrios Diamantakos, Krishna narrowly missed out on the Golden Boot due to a slightly lower goals-per-minute ratio.

Best Young Player

Isak Vanlalruatfela

The 22-year-old played a significant role last season in helping his side secure their first playoff qualification. This season, under the guidance of the new head coach, Vanlalruatfela, he continued to showcase his impressive form, and the Spanish head coach placed a lot of trust in the youngster. Utilizing his creativity and pace down the left channel, along with his stellar performances, he solidified his position on the left wing following Nandhakumar Sekar's departure. The winger appeared in 24 out of 25 matches this season, netting four goals and providing assists for three more.

What do they need next season?

Odisha FC will undoubtedly aim to take another step forward next season and strive for more silverware. To achieve this goal, they will seek to recruit more players in the mould of Lobera's style, as the Spaniard prefers to have an abundance of playmakers in his arsenal to supply his strikers. Additionally, they will focus on nurturing the young talents within their ranks and constructing a formidable squad around them. This strategy aims to enable Odisha FC to compete head-to-head with heavyweight teams like Mumbai City FC and Mohun Bagan Super Giant.