Clifford Miranda’s Odisha FC added another feather to their cap as they secured a place in the group stage of the AFC Cup 2023-24 after a comprehensive 3-1 win over Gokulam Kerala FC in the Hero Club Playoffs at the EMS Corporation Stadium in Kozhikode, Kerala on Saturday.

The Hero Super Cup winners rode on a spectacular hat trick from the talisman as they performed against the Hero I-League side.

Miranda, who guided Odisha FC to their first-ever silverware on Tuesday, conquered yet another feat with the Bhubaneswar-based club. He expressed immense pride as the side would now get an opportunity to represent the country at the continental level.

“It's always great to play in Asia, whether it's in the AFC Champions League or the AFC Cup. It's a different competition and environment that offers a beautiful experience. It is like playing in an international competition,” Miranda said in an interview after the game.

“Playing in Asia helps players, teams, and clubs grow. It is fantastic when you represent yourself not just in India but in Asia also,” he added.

Miranda believes the club now should aim to finish the pole position of the Hero ISL as it would give them an opportunity to play at the Asian level more often.

“The club should aim to compete in Asia, but in order to do so, they must first aim to be in the top position of the Hero ISL and strive to qualify for Asia year after year,” he said.

The Juggernauts took the field just four days after winning the Hero Super Cup. The former Indian international said it was always difficult for his players to replicate the form of the Hero Super Cup again in the playoff game.

“It was difficult (for us). Especially if there is a game soon after winning a tournament as it becomes difficult to motivate the players because they sometimes remain in that celebration mood,” explained Miranda.

Miranda was full of praise for his players as they not only secured a spot in Asia, but they did so in a dominating fashion. 

Reflecting on the performance of his players, he said: “Credit goes to the players for motivating themselves. The concentration level of the players was fantastic. They were ready to fight for every ball, to win every ball. The way we controlled the spaces when the opposition had the ball was just fantastic.”