Odisha FC is gearing up for a crucial showdown in the 2023-24 AFC Cup inter-zone semi-final 2nd leg against the Central Coast Mariners. Set to take place on March 14, 2024, at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar, kick-off is scheduled for 3:30 PM IST.

The Stakes:

After a challenging first leg that saw Odisha FC suffer a significant 4-0 defeat away from home, redemption is firmly on their minds. Sergio Lobera's squad, which showcased remarkable prowess during the group stage, now faces the daunting task of mounting a comeback to keep their tournament hopes alive. With the home advantage in their favor, they're poised to unleash their best to overturn the deficit.

Key Players:

Mourtada Fall, the centre-back, has been a standout performer for Odisha FC throughout the AFC Cup, netting four goals so far. To turn the tide, Odisha FC will heavily rely on Mauricio's attacking prowess, hoping for better support and opportunities in the crucial home fixture.


On the opposing side, the Central Coast Mariners enter the match with confidence following their dominant display in the first leg. The A-League outfit controlled proceedings, restricting Odisha FC's chances and securing a comfortable lead. Now, their focus shifts towards maintaining control and avoiding injuries as they aim to secure their passage to the next stage of the competition.

Mikael Doka emerged as a key figure for the Mariners in the previous encounter, bagging two goals along with an assist. His speed and direct style of play posed significant threat to Odisha FC's defense. Sergio Lobera's side will need to devise a plan to contain Doka and neutralize his impact to stand a chance of overturning the deficit.

On Wednesday, Odisha FC held their pre-match press conference in Kalinga Stadium, Bhubaneswar, featuring Head Coach Sergio Lobera and Player Diego Mauricio.

Tactical Approaches:

Sergio Lobera, the mastermind behind Odisha FC's tactical setup, emphasizes belief and resilience as the driving forces behind his team's approach. Despite the daunting deficit, Lobera remains confident in his players' abilities and the intimidating atmosphere of Kalinga Stadium. With a focus on cohesive team play and clinical finishing, Odisha FC aims to unsettle Central Coast Mariners and assert dominance from the opening minute.

In contrast, the Central Coast Mariners enter the match with a comfortable lead and a sense of assurance. However, they are well aware of the challenges posed by Odisha FC in their home territory. Maintaining control and capitalizing on opportunities will be central to their strategy as they seek to secure their passage to the next stage of the competition.

Coach Sergio Lobera: Reflecting on the upcoming match against Costa Marina, Lobera expressed admiration for the opponent's skill and cohesion. "Obviously, they are an amazing team. They are doing an amazing job in this competition. They are one of the best teams in Australia, for sure," he acknowledged. Despite previous disappointments, Lobera remained resolute, emphasizing the importance of belief and perseverance. "In football, everything is possible to happen and we need to believe in the end. We need to fight till the end," he declared confidently. Regarding tomorrow's game, Lobera highlighted the advantage of playing at Kalinga Stadium, asserting, "They need to play here and it's not easy to play in Kalinga."

Diego, a key figure in Lobera's plans, expressed optimism despite initial setbacks. "I know the first game will be against them not good. But for us, in Australia, the preparation is the first training," he remarked, exuding positivity about the team's readiness for the upcoming challenge.

In addressing the opponent's strengths, Lobera underscored the collective prowess of Central Coast Marina. "No, I think it will be a mistake if we are putting the focus on one or two players in the opponent team. Because the key of the success of Costa Marina is about the team," he explained. Emphasizing the need for self-improvement, Lobera emphasized the team's focus on their own performance and strategies rather than individual players on the opposing side.

In India, Odisha FC vs Central Coast Mariners FC, AFC Cup Inter-Zone Play-Off Semi-Final match will be telecasted on Sports 18 Network and streamed live on FanCode. Additionally, the match will be available for streaming on 10Play.