It’s Matchday 4 of the Hero ISL season 7 between the Juggernauts, Odisha FC and the Nizams, Hyderbad FC.
The Bhubaneswar-based side under the guidance of Head Coach Stuart Baxter is all set to start their season-long campaign against Telangana-based club.
Both the teams had joined the Hero ISL last season and eventually had got different outcomes. Odisha FC finished sixth in the table while Hyderabad had a disappointing season being placed at the bottom of the table. However, this is a new season and both the teams have made plenty of changes to their team along with their coaching staff and officials.
This is going to be a different battle for the two teams although Odisha FC has a 2-0 head to head record against Hyderabad FC, Head Coach, Stuart Baxter had said, “Being a professional sportsman, you can’t rely on your past because the past is now history. You should always focus on your present and coming future.”
Having some young and talented players alongside star players like Marcelinho, Diego Mauricio, Onwu and Steven Taylor, Odisha FC will be looking forward to a great beginning under their experienced coaching unit. Players like Vinit Rai, Shubham Sarangi, Nandhakumar Sekar, Jerry Mawihmingthanga, Daniel Lalhlimpuia, Arshdeep Singh, Mohammad Sajid Dhot and Gaurav Bora are now joined by Samuel Lalmuanpuia, Isak Ralte, Kamaljit Singh, Thoiba Singh, Hendry Antonay, Saurabh Meher, George D’Souza, Kamalpreet Singh and others.
This makes the team from the City of Temples one of the strongest sides among the young Indian players, where each one of them possesses the calibre of becoming an asset to the club as well as to Indian football. Odisha FC’s local star Shubham Sarangi said, “The entire team is looking forward to that match and now it is upon us how we perform and get the result. The preparations have been really good. We were in the quarantine for 10 days then we came out and went for training.”
Slowly and gradually we built on our fitness and now we are looking forward to the first game.” And with a leader of Steven Taylor’s calibre, who has played in Premier League for more than 10 years, and with other foreigners like South African international Cole Alexander, prolific ISL star Marcelinho, Brazilian forward Diego Mauricio, Australian defender Jacob Tratt and last year’s Hero Manuel Onwu, the team has got a strong foreign contingent.
Players like midfielder Alexander and centre-back Taylor had played under Coach Baxter before and that experience will be helpful for the team throughout the season as both of them go well with their “Sensei”. Onwu and Marcelinho have the experience of playing in India and they have a great average of scoring goals which is a good sign for Odisha FC. Apart from that, Marcelinho and Kamaljit’s experience of playing for Hyderabad FC last season and knowing many of their players from the sixth edition of Hero ISL will also play a trivial part in the first game.
Odisha FC’s Austalian linchpin and Captain, Steven Taylor had qouted, “It’s gonna be exciting for everyone but a different kind of season than that we are used to with no fans in the stadium. This season, I think we will see some surprises. Last year when I was with Wellington, there was a very young side and same again here with some fantastic experienced foreign players who will help the young boys. I am hoping for a fantastic season.”
Hyderabad and Odisha have swapped their forwards from last season and Aridane Santana seems to be the biggest signing for Hyderabad FC after a very successful yet not-so-good season with Odisha FC in the 2019-20 season. Head Coach Manuel Marquez will have to ensure that they give some desired outcomes to cheer for the Nizams’ fans from their very first game itself and for that, Santana will have to play a major role.
The inclusion of former Perth Glory winger Joel Chianese along with midfielder Lluis Sastre, and Odei Onaindia from CD Mirandes has made the club a strong one ahead of the beginning of the season. They have some experienced Indian names like Adil Khan, Souvik Chakrabarti, Laxmikant Kattimani, Halicharan Narzary and Subrata Paul and the Odisha boys will have to face these experienced players of their opposition.
Odisha FC vs Hyderabad FC will kick-off at 7:30 p.m in the evening. It will be played at the Bambolim Stadium behind closed doors.