Undeterred by the past, Odisha FC’s new coach Kiko Ramirez promises a competitive display in Hero ISL 2021-22

After a season to forget, Odisha FC have appointed Francisco ‘Kiko’ Ramírez González as their manager ahead of the eighth edition of the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) on a one-year contract with an option to extend. He had brief stints with CE Sabadell in Spain and Xanthi FC in Greece in the year 2019, before moving to India to lead Odisha FC.

An uphill task beckons for the gaffer, as he will set out to revive the club’s fortunes after a dismal Hero ISL 2020-21 season. The Kalinga Warriors ended the season at the bottom of the table, with two wins, six draws, and 12 losses.

The 51-year-old expressed his excitement upon embarking on the new journey. He said, "I am very excited to arrive in India and start working on this amazing project with Odisha FC to make our fans feel proud of the team. We are going to work hard to build a strong team with good players that represent our fan base."

As a forward during his playing days, Kiko Ramírez represented several clubs in the lower leagues of Spain. Most notably, he had a seven-year long spell at Gimnàstic Tarragona, while also representing sides like CE Sabadell FC, Málaga CF, Cartagonova CF and UE Tàrrega. He retired at the age of 32 in 2002.

Ramírez transitioned into coaching with Gimnàstic Tarragona, and had a lengthy association with the club. He became assistant coach of the senior team in 2002, before being appointed the head of their youth team in 2007.

After a three-year stint with the youth team, he got the opportunity to coach Pobla Mafumet for two seasons, a feeder club for Gimnàstic. After which, he was appointed as the head coach of Gimnàstic's first team.

However, his time with the first team of Gimnàstic was short-lived. He had fairly successful spells at CE L’Hospitalet and CD Castellón but missed out on promotion to the second tier with both these clubs.

His first overseas assignment came in 2017 when he was handed the reins of the Polish top-tier side Wisla Krakow. His time in Poland lasted under a year.

From a tactical perspective, Ramírez has often used a 4-2-3-1 formation at the clubs he has managed, but there is no certainty of the trend continuing in the upcoming Hero ISL season.

"Before establishing the final model of the game, now we are watching the players who are training because we think it is important to adapt to the players you have. If you do not adapt, maybe you put one system and it doesn't work," remarked the gaffer in an exclusive interview with Odisha FC TV on YouTube. He also added that the fans can rest assured of watching an attractive playing style from them this season.

In a career that has spanned over 19 years, Ramírez has managed over 200 games as head coach. The Spaniard has arrived in India with heaps of experience, and the 51-year-old has also gotten the opportunity to work with a familiar face in Aridai Cabrera, who he managed in his time at CE L’Hospitalet.

The head coach, who has admitted to being pleasantly surprised by the quality of domestic talent at the club, would have had ample time to assess his squad, with the Juggernauts commencing their pre-season preparations in early September. A major task awaits Ramírez, but he is confident of his side showing the required character and mettle in the upcoming edition of the Hero ISL.


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