ISL: Analysing Odisha FC's Indian contingent ahead of ISL 2021-22
Odisha FC have shown promise in the transfer market. Will they do the same on the pitch? A few days back we analysed their foreign contingent. This time, let's look at their Indian contingent.
The seventh edition of the Indian Super League wasn't a fascinating one for Odisha FC. The team made a bottom-placed finish with just 12 points to their name, winning just 2 matches, drawing 6 and losing 12. They were able to bag 25 goals but unfortunately conceded the most, 44. The team, however, has worked their way in the transfer market, signing players who can have an impact on their team, both in the form of Indians and foreigners. They have also brought in Kiko Ramirez as their head coach a few months back after the team parted ways with Stuart Baxter before their season (2020-21) ended. Before Odisha FC take the field this season, let's go through their Indian contingent and discuss their strengths and weaknesses.
The Juggernauts have managed to keep their core group intact and have made a few additions and subtractions here and there. They have a lot of young footballers who have the calibre to deliver their best in the ISL. The likes of Thoiba Singh Moirangthem, Hendry Antonay, Saurabh Meher, Gaurav Bora, Shubham Sarangi and Jerry Mawihmingthanga combining with their foreign contingent may produce a spark in this edition of the ISL. They have the speed required to go past opponents. An example would be their second half performance against SC East Bengal where they scored 5 goals and emerged victorious (6-5). Apart from this, the new managerial appointment will also give a morale boost to the squad.
The major concern for Odisha FC last season was their defence which was invaded many times and the team went on to concede 44 goals in the entire campaign. The management in the process of rectification has brought in the like of Lalruatthara and also has options in the form of Antonay Hendry who can assist Hector Rodas/Victor Mongil and Gaurav Bora in defence. Though the team conceded so many goals, all blame can't be put upon goalkeeper Arshdeep Singh, but still it will be expected that Arshdeep, who is just 24, will be more commanding this season under the sticks. Lastly, as the team has a new coach at this moment, it may take them a few rounds to come into shape.
3 KEY INDIANS TO LOOK FORWARD TO
The three key Indian footballers to look forward to are Jerry Mawihmingthanga, Vinit Rai and Lalruatthara. Jerry Mawihmingthanga's performance was exceptionally good last season which resulted in a contract extension in the month of April for the 24-year-old. Although a right-winger by nature, Jerry was used mostly as a right-midfielder last season. The lad went on to score 2 goals for the team and provided 5 assists. In the 17 matches which he featured in, he made 551 passes and took 21 shots on goal apart from 34 crosses. The second name on the list is of Vinit Rai. The 24-year-old defensive midfielder made 16 appearances for the Juggernauts in the seventh edition of the ISL. He stood firm in front of the defensive third and did his best to help the team. He made 74 tackles, 24 interceptions and 14 blocks in the entire campaign. He'll be a crucial custodian this time for the Juggernauts as a lot will depend upon him in the heart of the midfield. After the inclusion of former ISL champion Victor Mongil, it is expected that Rai will get the chance to learn from him and further improve his game. The last name here is of Lalruatthara. The 26-year-old, who has previously won the Emerging Player of the League award in the fourth edition of the ISL in 2017-18, joined the Juggernauts from Kerala Blasters FC in the month of June on a two-year contract. He hardly got a chance to display his talent last season as he appeared only 5 times for Kerala Blasters FC. Hence, it can be expected that the left-back will be looking forward to this season to make a comeback and leave an impact on Odisha FC's performance.
3 YOUNG INDIAN FOOTBALLERS TO KEEP AN EYE ON
The Odisha FC Indian contingent is studded with youngsters and it was really difficult to name just three. Shubham Sarangi, Hendry Antonay and Baoringdao Bodo will be the young Indian footballers of Odisha FC whom everyone should keep an eye on. Starting with Shubham Sarangi, the 21-year-old right-back played some promising football last season for the Juggernauts. In 14 appearances last season, Sarangi committed 35 tackles, 20 interceptions and 24 clearances and will be expected to do much better this season under their new head coach, Kiko Ramirez. Hendry Antonay would be the second name on the list. The 21-year-old, who is preferably a right-back, performed appreciably as a left-back in the 11 appearances he made for the Juggernauts last season. Antonay, who was part of the India U-17 squad in the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup, made 37 clearances and 26 blocks apart from committing 32 tackles in the campaign. As Odisha FC have already signed Lalruatthara as a left-back, the duel between Antonay and Sarangi to secure a place in the starting eleven will be a treat to watch (as both of them possess immense quality). The last name is of Baoringdao Bodo. Bodo, a 21-year-old, played just 46 minutes in the previous edition of the ISL. But he has that capability to fit into any coach's plan as his versatility and utility differentiates him from others. He has previously plied his trade in Chennaiyin FC apart from the national team's under-age teams. The lad can play as a play-maker, striker and also a winger. His creativity in the park is appreciable apart from his aerial efficiency and speed. It is expected he will get more game-time this season and will flourish and make a mark to his abilities.
Who do you think will turn out to be the best Indian footballer for Odisha FC?
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