Odisha FC, season review: Topsy-turvy outing with untapped potential for making it big

A smooth take-off, followed by a stormy flight and ultimately a turbulent landing sums up Odisha FC’s Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2021-22 campaign.

Odisha had ghosts of the previous season to tackle where they finished at the bottom of the league table with merely 12 points, and conceded the most goals (44). However, with nowhere to go but up, Odisha FC bounced back well on the comparison.

Record

Pl: 20; W: 6; D: 5; L: 9

They started strongly, winning three of their first four games, but inconsistencies wrecked their season apart, through the club’s unpredictable performances on both ends of the pitch which resulted in adding only three more wins in the remaining 16 matches.

Positives

Their campaign did have a lot of high points that tease the potential Odisha FC have in possession. Their 3-1 win over Bengaluru FC, 4-2 win over Mumbai City FC, and a dramatic 6-4 win over SC East Bengal are among some of the most memorable Hero ISL matches across seasons.

They were a delight to watch whenever the threatening trio of Aridai Cabrera, Javi Hernandez and Jonathas Cristian were on the pitch together.

Also, Odisha FC bettered themselves by scoring more goals this season than any other season in Hero ISL with 31 goals scored, improving on last season’s 25.

Negatives

Odisha FC scored a lot more but conceded almost the same amount of goals as last season, allowing 43 goals.

They conceded more goals via set-pieces than any other team this season, conceding 19. They were also one of the worst in terms of set-piece goals scored – seven goals – along with Chennaiyin FC.

The club also recorded a couple of heart-breaking defeats with massive margins, 6-1 loss to Hyderabad FC, 4-0 loss to Jamshedpur FC and a 5-1 defeat in this reverse fixture.

Best Player

Jonathas Cristian

Jonathas had an influential presence at the front line of the Odisha FC attack. He scored eight goals – most by an Odisha FC player this season – while providing four assists. With 12 goal contributions, no Odisha FC player contributed to more goals this season than Jonathas.

The highlight of his campaign was when he scored in five consecutive games, becoming the first Odisha FC player to achieve this feat.

Best young player

Thoiba Singh

After representing Odisha FC for the first time in the 2020-21 season, Thoiba broke into the scene for his midfield magic. He made consistent appearances this season, playing 18 matches and making 57 tackles, the most by an Odisha FC player this season. He also made 38 blocks, 22 interceptions and 16 clearances with an assist.

What they need next season

Odisha FC have found a core group of players, including a strong foreign contingent. However, more work needs to be done to scout young local talent and groom them for the bigger stage with seven spots reserved for Indian players in the team. The club also lacks experienced and established Indian National footballers who can lead by example in the home conditions.

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