Odisha FC head coach Sergio Lobera was pleased with his side’s performance as they took home all three points in their first game of the Indian Super League (ISL) 2023–24 season against Chennaiyin FC with a 2-0 scoreline at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar on Saturday. 

Odisha FC’s Jerry Mawihmingthanga scored the opener, while Diego Mauricio doubled the lead coming from the bench in the second half. Chennaiyin FC tried with all they had but could not capitalise on their chances. Lobera was delighted with the result, but acknowledged that his side need to improve in many aspects.

“This is a very good result. Obviously, to get a clean sheet is also important for us. But it's only the start of the season. Three points in front of our supporters, I am happy about this, but we need to improve in a lot of things also. It's not only about the result; we need to analyse as professionals. 

We need to improve a lot of things, but I am very proud of my players because they fought till the end in a difficult game in difficult circumstances,” Lobera said in the post-match press conference. 

Chennaiyin FC created more chances throughout the game but could not capitalise in the attacking third. CFC’s Connor Shields missed a clear chance during the dying stages of the first half as he failed to make a clean contact on Aakash Sangwan’s inch-perfect cross. The Marina Machans created their best chance of the game in the second half when Lazar Cirkovic and Connor Shields came close to scoring, but couldn't apply the finishing touch. 

Talking about the areas his side can improve, Lobera said: “They (Chennaiyin FC) had big chances also. It was an equal game, but we scored before. And when you score first, it changes the game. We need to keep the ball, we need to understand and create chances keeping the ball. Sometimes we have a lot of rush to arrive in the final third and we lose the ball. When the game is open, it’s the best chance for us (to score), because it’s 50-50.”

“When you have the ball and possession, you can keep calm and create chances. We (can) generate more chances. And there are sometimes, we lose the ball easily in these situations. We need to avoid this, and we need to improve on a lot of things,” Lobera further explained. 

Odisha FC will next face Mumbai City FC, as they welcome the defending ISL Shield winners at the Kalinga Stadium. Lobera encouraged his side to keep working and not think too far ahead.

“(We need to go) step by step. It's very important. If we are thinking where we are going to be in five months, it's a big mistake. I think it's a big mistake. You need to work every day. We need to know that there will be good moments and bad moment. But we need to be stronger. This is a good example. We lost our last game 4-0 (to Mohun Bagan Super Giant in the AFC Cup), but we came back stronger as a team, as a group, (and) as a family,” the Spaniard stated about his team’s chances going forward in the season.