ISL 2019 Preview: A rebranded team, Odisha FC will aim to put in a remarkably better performance
Delhi Dynamos finished at the eighth spot on the table in the last couple of seasons, and there is no doubt that the onus will be to put in a remarkably better performance this time around.
Odisha FC will be making their bow in the ISL this season. A rebranded and reincarnated form of Delhi Dynamos FC, Odisha FC has a majority of their contingent from the Dynamos squad itself. With a new look and some new faces, GMS, their owners will be hoping for better results. Delhi Dynamos finished at the eighth spot on the table in the last couple of seasons, and there is no doubt that the onus will be to put in a remarkably better performance this time around.
Odisha FC has signed several important players to strengthen the squad, which include the likes of former Barca B midfielder Diawondou Diagne, Aridane Santana, the talented defender and I-League winner Gaurav Boda, Argentine midfielder Martin Perez, Jerry Mawihmingthanga and Brazilian defender Carlos Delgado, to name a few. Under the guidance of Josep Gambou, Odisha FC will certainly have high expectations. Given that he did not have the right people in place last year, Gambou was excused for the poor showing, but he will certainly not have a lot of room for error this year. To his credit, towards the end of the season, Delhi did start playing like a team capable of impressing, but it was too little too late.
Setup this season
The ever-reliable Francisco Dorronsoro is expected to start under the sticks for Odisha FC. The backline of Narayan Das, Carlos Delgado, Gaurav Boda and Sajid Dhot looks pretty impressive on paper. For Gambou, this means that Odisha FC will have the opportunity to concede less (Delhi Dynamos kept only 3 clean sheets last year).
Odisha FC’s midfield is where their strength really shines through. Comprising of Vinit Rai and Diagne in holding midfield with Xisco on the right, Nanda Kumar on the left and Jerry or Romeo Fernandes down the middle, it is a balanced act of skill, power and technique that arguably makes their lineup the best in the league this season. On the offensive front, Xisco will be expected to bear the brunt of the creative load as the former Bengaluru FC man has one goal and five assists to his name in the last campaign.
Upfront, Santana is most likely to start, but Daniel Lalhlimpuia provides a decent backup option to Gambau. With four goals in 14 games for Delhi Dynamos in 2018/19, the youngster will be looking to make the most of all the opportunities he gets. Known to prefer a 4-2-3-1, Gambau has the ideal resources in place to extract the best out of his squad.
Goalkeepers: Francisco Dorronsoro, Albino Gomes, Arshdeep Singh, Ankit Bhuyan.
Defenders: Gaurav Bora, Carlos Delgado, Rana Gharami, Amit Tudu, Mohammad Sajid Dhot, Narayan Das, Pradeep Mohanraj.
Midfielders: S Lalrhezuala, Marcos Tebar, Diawandou Diagne, Vikramjit Singh, Vinit Rai, Martin Perez Guedes, Adria Carmona, Jerry Mawihmingthanga, Xisco Fernandez, Nandha Kumar Sekar, Romeo Fernandes.
Forwards: Aridane Santana, Daniel Lalhlimpuia, Seiminmang Manchong, Shubham Sarangi.
Three key players
A utility player without whom it was impossible to imagine a Bengaluru FC lineup last year, the 30-year-old has the potential to be the most important cog of the new Odisha FC team. Calm, technically sound and always making runs and shifting flanks, Xisco is an asset if he is used correctly and there is no doubt that his form will go along way to decide whether Odisha FC can make it to the play-offs or not.
Alongside Edwin Sydney, Gaurav Boda was one of the breakout stars in the I-League last season. A part of the Chennai City FC squad which lifted the trophy, he made headlines for his composure, ability and physical prowess despite being only a teenager. Snapped up by Odisha FC, this is a huge season for Boda as he will be looking to underline his class and gain a call from the national team set up.
Goal-scoring was a major headache for Delhi last season but Odisha FC will be hoping that Santana will solve the problem for them. With 23 goals in 18 matches, the Dynamos had one of the lowest goal tallies in the league. Bought on a loan, Santana has netted 30 goals in his last 2 seasons and is certainly OdIsha’s best bet in attack. If he can hit the stride up and running soon, he will certainly pose a lot of problems to the opposition.
While the expectations to make it to the playoffs are a given, it is more likely that Odisha FC will be looking to just play their natural game and see how far it takes them in their debut season.
Odisha FC faces Jamshedpur FC in their first ever ISL fixture, away on the 22nd of October. Their first home game at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneshwar in on 27th October against Mumbai City FC.