Kalinga Super Cup: Odisha FC’s journey to their second straight final
Let’s have a quick look at Odisha FC's journey in the Kalinga Super Cup before they square off against East Bengal FC in a high-voltage final on Sunday.
Odisha FC edged past Mumbai City FC in the second Kalinga Super Cup semi-final to reach the final for the second consecutive time in a row, continuing their commendable performances while having showcased indomitable spirit across the entire tournament.
Since the arrival of Sergio Lobera at the helm, Odisha FC have been going through an evolutionary phase that have helped the Kalinga Warriors achieve successive feats. The defending champions finished top of their group in the AFC Cup to seal their spot in the Inter-Zone Semi-Final playoff for the first time in the club’s history. Currently, the Kalinga Warriors are unbeaten in their last 15 outings across all competitions, among which they emerged victorious 13 times.
Odisha FC have been in scintillating form in the Kalinga Super Cup, winning all three group stage matches and the semi-final before the ultimate final game. The Kalinga Warriors topped Group D with maximum points, defeating Bengaluru FC, Inter Kashi, and FC Goa, showcasing their offensive resilience and defensive stability.
Lobera’s men to put an end to FC Goa’s 12-match unbeaten streak, across competitions, to advance to the knockout stages. They then got the better of Petr Kratky’s Mumbai City FC in a highly intensified semi-final to reach the final on their home turf for the second consecutive time in the tournament's history.
Throughout the Kalinga Super Cup, Odisha FC displayed excellent performances that led them to the final. Let’s have a quick look at their journey before they square off against East Bengal FC in a high-voltage final match on Sunday.
Jahouh’s solitary goal helps Odisha FC see off Bengaluru FC
Odisha FC kicked off their Kalinga Super Cup journey with a narrow 1-0 victory against Bengaluru FC, courtesy of Ahmed Jahouh’s solitary free-kick goal.
In the 21st minute, Jahouh showcased his set-piece prowess by converting a free-kick just outside the box. His perfectly curled shot found the back of the net, leaving Bengaluru FC's young goalkeeper Sahil Poonia helpless at the near post.
The match unfolded as a thrilling display of end-to-end action, with both teams eager to kick off their campaigns with a victory. Despite numerous goal-scoring opportunities for both sides, resilient defenses thwarted those attempts. The game took a turn when Ryan Williams received a direct red card, reducing Bengaluru FC to ten men. Despite the numerical disadvantage, the Blues had opportunities to level the playing field, but their failure to convert chances denied them a comeback in the match.
Odisha FC ease past Inter Kashi
Odisha FC carried forward their winning run in their second match by defeating I-League outfit Inter Kashi by securing a clinical 3-0 victory. Puitea, Diego Mauricio, and Isaka Ralte put their names on the scoresheet, which helped them exhibit a dominant performance against Carlos Santamarina’s team.
Odisha FC seized control right from the outset, unleashing a barrage of attacks on Inter Kashi's defensive third. Puitea's precision strike proved pivotal, breaking the deadlock just before halftime. Mauricio and Ralte further solidified their lead, securing a commanding victory with a substantial margin.
Fall and Jahouh propel Odisha FC to victory against FC Goa
Odisha FC edged past FC Goa in a Group D decider to amplify their journey to the semi-final. The goals for Odisha FC came from Mourtada Fall and Jahouh, two former FC Goa players and their contributions went a long way as they beat the Gaurs in a five-goal thriller.
Jahouh opened the scoresheet with his precise finishing from the spot-kick, while Odisha FC’s defensive stalwart Fall demonstrated his offensive prowess by striking twice within five minutes. Carlos Martinez bagged two late goals but it was not enough as FC Goa fell short of getting a much-needed victory.
Mauricio steals a crucial victory against Mumbai City FC in the semis
Odisha FC’s Brazilian forward Mauricio proved his worth again in the knockout fixture against Mumbai City FC. His his spot-kick ended up being the decider as they knocked out the Islanders to seal their spot in the Kalinga Super Cup final.
The match unfolded as an exhilarating contest, with both teams fervently competing for a spot in the final. Despite Mauricio's crucial goal just before halftime, numerous opportunities presented themselves in both halves, yet neither side could capitalize on them, making the fixture a cagey affair. Notably, Odisha FC's goalkeeper, Lalthuammawia Ralte, achieved his third clean sheet in the tournament, marking the highest instance in this ongoing campaign.
Having triumphed in all four of their matches, Lobera's side has secured a place in the Kalinga Super Cup 2024 final. They are set to face Carles Cuadrat's resurgent East Bengal FC on Sunday at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar. The upcoming clash promises a tactical showdown between the two Spanish tacticians, with the Red and Gold Brigade squaring off against the Kalinga Warriors in the title-deciding fixture.