Playing with a new name and a new home, Odisha FC will be hoping for a better fortune this time around when they begin their Indian Super League (ISL) campaign on Tuesday away from home against Jamshedpur FC at the JRD Tata Sports Complex.
Odisha, previously playing under the name Delhi Dynamos FC, had dismal starts in their last two seasons which had an impact on their final standing eventually. As they begin their campaign, they have a host of new fans in the people of Odisha who are set to get their first glimpse of the ISL.
Jamshedpur FC, on the other hand, have enjoyed two decent seasons since the club’s inception. However, they did miss out on a playoff spot narrowly on both occasions and this year, they should be looking to rectify that.
The Bridge caught up with Sibasish Patanaik, who is also an integral member of The Juggernauts, the official fan club of the Bhubaneshwar-based side, to discuss his favourite team’s chances throughout the season, what having a new club in the state means and more. Following are excerpts:
Q> Going into the opener, what kind of expectations do the new fans, such as yourself, have on the first ISL club from Odisha?
There’s been a lot of buzz as football comes to Odisha for the first time and we expect the team to perform it’s best this season. As for the team, they have had a good mix of results in the practice matches and will look to carry forward the momentum in the first match.
Q> Which players from your team are you looking forward to seeing in action the most?
A lot is expected from the marquee signings. The likes of Aridane Santana, Carlos Delgado, Marcos Tebar and Diawandou Diagne are going to be the key players through. I expect a lot from Aridane and Xisco Hernandez up front. Narayan Das has been a tad bit off-colour for some while but I expect the hardworking full-back to be at his best. A lot of youngsters are on the team as well and I expect them to rise to the occasion and make every chance count.
Q> Where do you think Odisha FC will finish this season?
On a realistic note, making it to the knockouts would be a big achievement and I believe this team has the perfect mix of players to make it happen.
Q> What are your thoughts on Tuesday’s opposition, Jamshedpur FC?
Jamshedpur will also be hoping to make it to the top 4 after finishing 5th in the last two editions. Hence, they will be tough competitors. Coming to Tuesday’s match, Tiri and Sergio Castel are the two players who pose a threat for us. Castel, especially, can be very deadly.