Odisha FC will be banking heavily on the tips given by their new coach this season, Kiko Ramirez, when they take on the Sunil Chhetri-led Bengaluru FC in an Indian Super League (ISL) match here later on Wednesday.
Spaniard Ramirez has the experience of coaching Polish top flight club Wisla Krakow, and he would like to ensure a rare good start for Odisha FC against the 2018/19 ISL champions at the Tilak Maidan Stadium.
Bengaluru FC are on a high after winning their opening encounter of the ISL 2021/22 season against NorthEast United FC (NEUFC). And with the side having a manager of the calibre of Marco Pezzaiuoli -- the German who was the technical director of Bundesliga side Eintracht Frankfurt before coming here -- they would by now have acquired the necessary skill to overpower any team in the top Indian football league.
Bengaluru FC defeated NEUFC 4-2 in a dream start to the season and a win against Odisha FC would only give them the momentum moving forward. Bengaluru FC played five matches in the pre-season, of which they won two, lost two and drew one. Some of the youngsters from the squad were also involved in the Durand Cup.
On the other hand, Odisha FC will have to put in a lot of effort after they finished in 11th place last season, securing 12 points in 20 matches. The club won only two games and lost 12. This season, they would hope to at least finish in the mid-table, if not more.
In the last five pre-season practice matches, the club won three, drew one and lost one.
For Bengaluru FC, the injury to young winger Leon Augistine would be a concern. Pezzaiuoli looked concerned in the pre-match press conference when he revealed that he is still waiting for the MRI results. As things stand, he will most likely be unavailable for the game against Odisha FC.
Odisha FC have added several players who look good on paper but it remains to be seen how well they gel on the field. In order to fix the defensive woes of last season, the club has signed Victor Mongil and Hector Rodas. Mongil has joined from a top-tier Georgian club FC Dinamo Tbilisi. As for Rodas, he has the experience of playing in La Liga with Levante UD.
The god thing about Odisha FC is that they have no injury concerns and it would be a challenging task for Ramirez to choose the starting eleven, For them, Jerry Mawihmingthanga scored two goals and made five assists in 20 appearances last season. He will be one of the Indian players to look out for this season.
( 463 Words)