Odisha FC assistant coach Floyd Pinto expects a tough challenge as his team face NorthEast United FC in their final Indian Super League (ISL) match at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Guwahati on Saturday.

The Kalinga Warriors have won all of their last five ISL games against NorthEast United FC. In the reverse fixture against the Highlanders, Sergio Lobera’s men secured a narrow 1-0 victory in Bhubaneswar courtesy of Diego Mauricio’s solitary goal.

Despite Juan Pedro Benali’s side already being out of contention for the playoffs, Pinto is well aware of the challenges NorthEast United FC could pose in front of their home supporters in their final game of this campaign. Pinto will also be up against his former club, guiding them to the semi-final of the Super Cup last season. 

“Playing against a team (playing) with (high) intensity, playing against a team that has purpose, and a team that wants to prove themselves in the ISL, is not going to be easy. So, it’s going to be a good game, and it’s always good to come up against your former side and familiar faces. Everything is good until the final whistle is blown,” Pinto said in the pre-match press conference.

Odisha FC suffered a 2-1 defeat against Mumbai City FC in their last game. The result put an end to their hopes of staying alive in race for the League Shield However, Pinto acknowledged that losing against the Islanders would not have any impact on the team and believes his team is in good shape before taking on the Highlanders.

“We have been enjoying our football. We have been playing every game without pressure, we have been playing every game with enthusiasm, with positivity. Losses happen in football. It was a close game. It was a game of fine margins. The squad is upbeat and ready to go again. We have been training well,” he opined.

“We know we have a tough game against NorthEast United FC and the all-important playoffs coming forward. The mentality is positive, and we are approaching every game with that positivity and with the intent to win,” he continued.

Odisha FC are currently placed in the fourth spot in the points table with 39 points in 21 matches. Lobera’s men were very much in the chase for the ISL League Shield throughout the season, where they staged remarkable performances, finshing the league stages unbeaten at home.

Sharing his insights on their ongoing ISL season and their objective ahead of the playoff round, he stated, “The league is not over. We still have a game to play. We still have three points to play for. I think we have gone from being in contention for the top-six throughout the years to also being in contention for the League Shield, which in itself says a lot about the efforts, the performances of the players. Not just on the field, but also the efforts put in by the staff off the field as well."

“We have three points to play for and then the all-important playoffs. We are looking forward to winning something for our supporters and the club because we really believe that at this point, we can be competitive with any team in the league,” he added. 

It will be a tough game: Diego Mauricio


Diego Mauricio accompanied Pinto in the pre-match press conference ahead of their final away game of the season against NorthEast United FC. The Brazilian forward has been an integral part of the team's attack, scoring 10 goals.

Aligning with the Odisha FC assistant coach’s thoughts, the 32-year-old forward is also anticipating a tough outing against NorthEast United FC in their forthcoming match.

“It will be a tough game, a difficult game. I know NorthEast United FC are not going to the playoffs, but these guys are going to play in front of their fans, which is also their last home game this season,” Mauricio, last season's Golden Boot winner said in the pre-match press conference.