Rebuild, reunite, and reign: Odisha FC gearing up for Hero ISL 2021-22

Odisha FC have exhibited contrasting performances in the past couple of Hero Indian Super League (ISL) seasons but after an overhaul, the Bhubaneshwar-based outfit would be looking to cement their spot in the upper echelons of Hero ISL 2021-22. The club has opted for an entirely new foreign contingent, while also appointing Francisco 'Kiko' Ramírez as their head coach for the upcoming season.

The Spaniard is well aware of his club’s past displays and is aiming to look forward rather than backward. “I won’t speak about the past, now we’re in the present. We have to think of a good future for ourselves. I’m in a strong position to know that the players are good together. We’re preparing for the tough moments ahead and we’re also planning on where to arrive in the future. We’re making a team to compete, compete, and compete,” Ramírez had previously said in an interaction with www.indiansuperleague.com

Tournament history

Odisha FC had an impressive campaign in the Hero ISL 2019-20 season under the leadership of Josep Gumbau, who ensured his side stayed in contention for the semi-final spots for majority of the season. The side earned a sixth-place finish, with seven wins, four draws, and seven losses, missing out on the semi-finals by four points.

The Juggernauts witnessed a forgettable 2020-21 season, as they had a sluggish start, only registering their first win in their ninth league game. They secured an 11th-place finish, registering just two wins, six draws, and 12 losses. The side suffered due to a shaky defence, as they conceded 44 goals in the 20 games they played.

Players to watch out for

Héctor Rodas

The 33-year-old who most recently played for Cultural Leonesa in the Spanish third-tier would be looking to use his experience and skills to marshal an Odisha backline that looked vulnerable last season. He has featured for clubs like Levante UD, Elche CF, Real Betis and Córdoba CF in the past.

Aridai Cabrera

Cabrera has spent his entire career playing for several Spanish outfits, and the attacker would be looking to light the Hero ISL on fire, in what will be his first overseas experience. He spent his formative years at Universidad LP, before featuring for RCD Mallorca, Girona FC, Hospitalet, Sabadell FC, Cultural Leonesa and Las Palmas.

Vinit Rai

The midfielder has established himself as a vital player for the club, having been a regular feature in the past two seasons. He has been entrusted with responsibility of leadership after being named one of Odisha FC’s captains, and captaincy might get the best out of the youngster who has displayed immense potential so far.

Jonathas de Jesus

Having played in the top-tier competitions of Brazil, the Netherlands, Italy, Spain, Russia, and Germany, Jonathas has arrived in India with a stellar record. The Brazilian who last represented UAE’s Hatta Club scored six goals in 10 games for them. With over 100 career goals under his belt at the club level, the striker would have a lot of expectations riding on him this season.

Battle to watch

A notable fixture for the Juggernauts will be against SC East Bengal. Both Odisha FC and SC East Bengal would be looking to brush aside disappointments from last season, as they finished 11th and 9th in the standings, respectively.

One of the highlights of Hero ISL 2020-21 was the goal-fest that these two sides contested on the final matchday, with Odisha FC emerging victorious by a scoreline that read 6-5.

There have been several key additions to either squad and the clubs have also roped in experienced Spanish managers who have promised to make their sides play attractive, possession-based football, which will result in an enticing faceoff when these two sides come up against each other on 30th November 2021.

Fixtures

Date

Fixture

Venue

24-11-2021

Odisha FC v/s Bengaluru FC

Tilak Maidan Stadium

30-11-2021

Odisha FC v/s SC East Bengal

Tilak Maidan Stadium

5-12-2021

Kerala Blasters FC v/s Odisha FC

Tilak Maidan Stadium

10-12-2021

Odisha FC v/s Northeast United FC

Tilak Maidan Stadium

14-12-2021

Odisha FC v/s Jamshedpur FC

Tilak Maidan Stadium

18-12-2021

Chennaiyin FC v/s Odisha FC

Tilak Maidan Stadium

24-12-2021

Odisha FC v/s FC Goa

Tilak Maidan Stadium

28-12-2021

Hyderabad FC v/s Odisha FC

Athletic Stadium, Bambolim

03-01-2022

Odisha FC v/s Mumbai City FC

Tilak Maidan Stadium

08-01-2022

ATK Mohun Bagan v/s Odisha FC

PJN Stadium, Fatorda


Squad

Goalkeepers: Arshdeep Singh, Ravi Kumar, Kamaljit Singh

Defenders: Lalhrezuala, Hendry Antonay, Victor Mongil, Hector Rodas, Gaurav Bora, Sebastian Thangmuansang, Sahil Panwar, Ruatthara, Deven Sawhney.

Midfielders: Paul Ramfangzauva, Javier Hernandez, Vinit Rai, Isak Vanlalruatfela, Thoiba Singh Moirangthem, Isaac Vanmalsawma, Liridon Krasniqi.

Forwards: Aridai Cabrera, Jonathas De Jesus, Nandhakumar Sekar, Akshunna Tyagi, Daniel Lalhlimpuia, Mawihmingthanga, Nikhil Raj Murugesh Kumar, CVL Remtluanga.

 

 

 

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