From Miranda's special triumph to Gil's goals: Takeaways from Hero Super Cup 2023
After the gap of two years, the prestigious Hero Super Cup was back and the tournament saw teams from different parts of the country consisting of Hero ISL and Hero I-League fight for the coveted trophy. Odisha FC led by head coach Clifford Miranda came out winners after defeating Bengaluru FC in the Hero Super Cup final.
The Blues faced defeat after they made it to their third final in the year and were gunning for their second Hero Super Cup title. Miranda became the first-ever Indian coach to lead any Hero ISL club to a major trophy and was applauded by everyone for his impact on the Juggernauts, who looked a transformed team under the former Indian national team player.
Looking back into the intense group stage matches and nail-biting knockout encounters, the Hero Super Cup brought fans to the edge of their seats with teams throwing everything they got on the pitch.
Here are the key takeaways from the Hero Super Cup:
Odisha FC's surprise triumph
After the conclusion of the Hero ISL campaign, teams shifted their focus on the Hero Super Cup and the likes of ATK Mohun Bagan, Mumbai City FC, Bengaluru FC were the favourites for the trophy after impressive seasons but Odisha FC outplayed every opponent they faced and secured their first-ever major trophy as a club. The Juggernauts punched above their weight after finishing sixth in the league campaign in the Hero ISL which was followed by their exit from the knockouts through ATK Mohun Bagan's hands in the knockout match.
They aced through the group stage that consisted two victories: one against Aizawl FC, and the other against Hyderabad FC after they had drawn the opening fixture against East Bengal FC. Under Miranda, the Juggernauts displayed attacking intent from the first whistle and the free-flowing football amazed everyone. The Juggernauts then met NorthEast United FC, another team coming into the semi-final with a brilliant performance in the Hero Super Cup, but they were too strong for Floyd Pinto's side. The final witnessed Diego Mauricio's magic as the star striker opened the scoring and then added to his tally to seal the first trophy for the club.
Diego Mauricio continued his hot-blazing form from the Hero ISL where the Brazilian striker won the Golden Boot with 12 goals in 21 games, as he finished as the second highest goalscorer in Hero Super Cup with five goals in four appearances, with the most-important brace coming in the final to seal the ultimate prize.
Jamshedpur FC's impressive attack
The latest edition of the Hero Super Cup brought a lot of surprises along with it, heavyweight clubs failing out of the competition while underdogs proving their mettle and displaying their style with complete confidence. The team that impressed everyone with their mindset, tactical play and combinations all over the pitch was Jamshedpur FC. A complete shift from their performances in the Hero ISL, the Men of Steel outplayed and outscored every opponent they met along the way displaying their ultra-attacking mindset before losing out to Bengaluru FC in the semi-final clash.
After finishing 10th in the Hero ISL campaign and being grouped with the reigning Hero ISL champions ATK Mohun Bagan and FC Goa, who finished three places above them in the league standings, the Men of Steel displayed an unmatched attacking style of play and earned three victories out of three. Aidy Boothroyd's men scored the most number of goals (11) in the group stage with five goals against FC Goa, three against ATK Mohun Bagan, and three against Gokulam Kerala FC.
Wilmar Gil makes a statement
NorthEast United FC impressed in the Hero Super Cup after a disappointing Hero ISL campaign by reaching the semi-finals. The star for the Highlanders was striker Wilmar Jordan Gil. The Colombian striker scored eight goals out of 20 league goals for NorthEast United FC in the Hero ISL and carried that form in the Hero Super Cup.
Led by Floyd Pinto in the tournament, NorthEast United FC turned the tables after losing the opening fixture against Chennaiyin FC. An empatic victory against Hero ISL League Shield winners was powdered through by Jordan's brace before he netted four goals against Churchill Brothers in a 6-3 victory. The Highlanders captain had six goals in two matches before the semi-final clash against Odisha FC. He opened the scoring against the Juggernauts but was on the losing side as Odisha FC won the fixture by 3-1.
Jordan finished the tournament as the top goalscorer with seven goals in four fixtures, stamping his authority as one of the best strikers in the country and his hot goalscoring streak makes him the most ruthless player in front of the goal at the moment.
An Indian coach rises to the occasion
After securing the first-ever playoff finish, Josep Gombau was expected to lead Odisha FC in the Hero Super Cup but both parties had different plans and Clifford Miranda stepped as the head coach and delivered the trophy and wrote his name in the history books by becoming the first Indian coach to win the Hero Super Cup.
A skillful midfielder of his playing times, Miranda honed the roles and responsibilities as the head coach quite quickly and sounded confident while talking about his team's mindset and ambitions in the press conferences leading upto the opening fixture in the Hero Super Cup. The Juggernauts looked a different team under Miranda with fast-paced counter attacks to possession based style of play to control the flow of the matches while keeping their battling mindset intact. His tactical awareness was evident in out-smarting Hyderabad FC and NorthEast United FC on their way to the final.
Even in the final, Miranda showed his class by helping his team overcome Bengaluru FC who were playing in their third final of the season and knew how to win big games of football. With the this win, Miranda has shown that he is ready to take up the biggest jobs in Indian football.