ISL- Indian Super League

Five players Odisha FC should target this summer

Projjal Prajna DasProjjal Prajna Das

May 31 2023
Odisha FC

The Juggernauts look for positions to bolster ahead of their debut AFC Cup appearance.

After a truly memorable season for Odisha FC, the Bhubaneswar-based side would have their eyes fixed on Asia in their debut appearance. However, the club has confirmed the departure of 11 players from the current squad as of now and expectedly a few more in the coming week.

But on the upside, newly anointed boss Sergio Lobera has set his sight clear on Asia by signing his favorite Moroccan Ahmed Jahouh almost instantaneously after being formally announced as the Kalinga Warriors’ head coach, so the Juggernauts indeed mean business for the 2023-24 season with their project draft.

With Jahouh in their arsenal, who else joins Lobera on the quest to Asian glory? Is it Hugo Boumous or Edu Garcia? Find out more below:

Pintu Samal

The right-back spot has always been a spot of bother for Odisha since their inception. So much so, that Narender Gahlot – a conventional CB, and Aniket Jadhav – a winger were made to fill up the positions throughout the season.

With Dinliana Renthlei admittedly the first choice for RB, Pintu can be a crucial inclusion in the side which will not only ensure game time for the Odisha FC reserves team right-back, but also fuel more youngsters from the state of Odisha to take interest in the game. The versatile fullback covers his tracks swiftly and is equally aggressive on the flanks as displayed during the Santosh Trophy for the Odisha state team.

Chinglensana Singh

The Hyderabad FC centre-back would be keen on tougher challenges as his injury spell at Hyderabad in 2022-23 season saw Nim Dorjee ply his trade as the primary CB for the Nizams.

Come a fresh season, Odisha FC should express their interest in this versatile defender who can slot in as an LB at times as well. Although Sana has a contract till 2025 with Hyderabad, if Odisha successfully convince him with their long-term project, he could be vital addition to the squad and would mean Narender Gahlot gets a breather during the upcoming season which AIFF mentioned would be longer than usual. With Hyderabad not making it to Asia this year, the Manipuri defender could give a serious thought of Odisha FC, if approached

Abdenasser El Khayati

Had Abdenasser El Khayati not been susceptible to injuries, he would have easily surpassed the highest goalscorers of this season in the ISL. Not to unsee the fact that he plays in the attacking midfield role, contrast to most of the runners in the golden boot race.

But that is what turned eyeballs for this Dutch midfielder who could mould himself at basically any position on the upper half of the pitch for Chennaiyin. And now that he has managed to do so, Odisha must have a hawk’s eye on this free agent particularly after it has been confirmed that he won’t be staying with Chennaiyin FC anymore after May 31, 2023.

Mourtada Fall

After Mumbai recognized their indebtedness to Fall’s role and contributions at the club, it is imminent that the defensive stalwart will have many takers for the upcoming season as he sure has some gas left in him. And what better team than Odisha FC! This not only gives him a chance to play in the AFC Cup but also importantly reunites him with his favorite boss Sergio Lobera.

Lobera and Fall go back to their FC Goa days when they won the Super Cup together and then when the former moved to Mumbai City, he ensured that his favorites accompanied him to further laurels and Mourtada Fall acknowledged his boss’ request. Fall went on to win a couple more shields and the ISL trophy with Mumbai. With May 31 fast approaching, Odisha would make a serious statememt if they draft in Fall before he becomes a free agent.

Edu Garcia

The most obvious target for Lobera at Odisha would be his Sichuan Jiuniu number 11, Edu Garcia. After Nandhakumar Sekar said his final words to the club that transformed him from a boy to man, the number 11 spot is up for grabs in the Odisha setup and no one better to fit than Edu Garcia.

The ISL veteran has had experience of playing at Bengaluru, ATK, and Hyderabad previously would definitely not shy away from taking a shot at Asia and more importantly with his current boss. The Spaniard who plays primarily as a winger can also slot in at the playmaker’s role, so coach Lobera would defintely eye him due to versatility. Edu Garcia has 13 goals, 11 assists and over 40 goal contributions during his stay in the Hero ISL, so it would be apposite that Odisha FC draft in Lobera’s talisman into the fray.

The summer window opens up a fresh opportunity for the Juggernauts to stagnate their vacancies and make some statement signings in sync with their soon-to-arrive coach and first ever AFC Cup presence.

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