In the summer, Sergio Lobera deemed his decision to join Odisha FC as the most significant challenge in his career.

Despite securing a victory in their season opener, Odisha FC faced a winless streak in the following three matches, losing two. Their AFC Cup journey began with a disappointing start, losing both of their initial two matches.

However, Lobera orchestrated a remarkable turnaround. Entering the new year, Odisha FC emerges as strong contenders for the ISL League Shield. Currently positioned third in the ISL standings, they've won six of their ten games. Notably, their performance in the AFC Cup is impressive, bouncing back from two initial losses to secure a spot in the knockout stages.

This positive streak bodes well for Odisha FC, especially for Sergio Lobera, who will be eyeing his first trophy with the club at the Kalinga Super Cup.

Can Lobera enhance his trophy collection in Indian football?

Among the current active head coaches in the ISL, Lobera stands out as the most successful, clinching four titles with two different clubs during his Indian football tenure.

Leading FC Goa to the Super Cup in 2018, their first-ever title, and subsequently winning the ISL League Shield with the Gaurs in the 2019-20 season, Lobera continued his success at Mumbai City FC. In his inaugural season with the Islanders, he secured the ISL Cup and Shield, making him the first head coach to achieve the league double.

With triumphs at his prior two Indian football clubs, there's every reason to believe Lobera can add another title to his illustrious CV.

Having tasted success in the competition previously and armed with his experience and track record in Indian football, Lobera possesses all the tools needed for success.

A robust side aiming to defend the crown

Odisha FC clinched their first title last season, securing the Super Cup under the guidance of former interim head coach Clifford Miranda.

Miranda swiftly led the team after Josep Gombau's departure during the ISL 2022-23 season.

However, a collective effort from the players contributed to their success. Although Lobera is relatively new to the club, many key players played pivotal roles in last season's title triumph. From seasoned players like Amrinder Singh, Carlos Delgado, and Diego Mauricio to emerging talents such as Isak Ralte, Narender Gahlot, Princeton Rebello, and Aniket Jadhav.

This season, additions like Ahmed Jahouh, Mourtada Fall, Amey Ranawade, and CY Goddard joined the squad, with the quartet having previously tasted success under Lobera. The former three, in particular, have been consistent starters this season, playing crucial roles.

Armed with a reinforced squad, Odisha FC are well poised to defend their title under Lobera's guidance. What better place to achieve this than at home in Bhubaneswar, where the team has received unwavering support from fans and a place that has become their stomping ground.