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Indian Women’s League

All you need to know about history of Odisha FC women's team

Published at :June 24, 2024 at 2:58 PM
Modified at :June 24, 2024 at 2:58 PM
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(Courtesy : AIFF media)

Uttiyo Sarkar


Odisha FC women had a successful season in IWL 2023-24.

Odisha FC women’s team have made their mark in history by securing a place in the inaugural edition of the AFC Women’s Champions League that begins in the 2024-25 season. The Juggernauts will be the first female Indian side to ever feature in such a prestigious tournament and they will fight against some of the best that Asia has to offer from August.

Odisha FC’s women’s side might have a relatively short-lived history, but they have already taken major leaps forward to assert themselves as one of India’s best women’s teams. With sufficient investment, smart coaching and management – the Kalinga Warriors’ female team have overshadowed the men in terms of clinching major championships.

The Odisha FC women’s team have been playing since 2022 and have boasted some of the best female players in Indian Football. They have been pretty dominant over the last few years, as we detail the key achievements in their history.

Major achievements

Upon the creation of the women’s team, the Odisha FC officials worked hard to rope in some quality female footballers from around the country. They were able to rope in prolific young forward Pyari Xaxa and defender Juli Krishan in the first year itself.

In 2023, the Odisha FC women significantly improved their side with the addition of experienced Indian internationals like Bala Devi, Manisa Panna, Sanju Yadav and Indumathi Kathiresan. Moreover, the club was also able to rope in quality foreign players – including Myanmar Women’s all-time top scorer Win Theingi Tun.

Odisha FC women dominated their first participation in the Odisha Women’s League in 2022. They won the title very comfortably, winning all 10 matches – scoring  46 goals and only conceding three times. They won five of their eight matches in the 2022-23 Indian Women’s League (IWL) season but were knocked out in the quarter-finals by Gokulam Kerala.

But after the significant improvement in their squad in 2023, the Kalinga Warriors’ female side roared back in the 2023-24 season. They won the IWL title comfortably, winning 10 of their 12 matches and scoring 31 goals! Pyari Xaxa was their top scorer in both the previous IWL campaigns and played a major role in leading them to success.

Winning the 2023-24 IWL title helped Odisha FC women get automatic qualification into the 2024-25 AFC Women’s Champions League. In August, they’ll be the first female Indian side to play in a continental competition.

Odisha Women FC’s all-time and current biggest threats

Odisha FC Women’s might have a two-year-long history so far, but they have already been blessed with some exceptional players. This includes the short stint that veteran India Women’s team striker Bala Devi spent with the club in 2023. She only made eight appearances in the 2022-23 IWL but still managed to score six goals.

Odisha FC women have been able to retain the majority of their 2023-24 squad so far and look to be in a strong position heading into the next season. One of their biggest threats is the Myanmar forward Win Theingi Tun, who scored an impressive 18 goals in her debut IWL campaign for the Juggernauts.

Odisha FC women also have the brilliant Indumathi Kathiresan to torment teams from the middle. Her excellent dribbling ability through midfield, smart creative impulse and ability to provide goals make her a major threat to any team. She has also excelled at the international scene, having scored 17 goals in 57 appearances for the Blue Tigresses.

Manisa Panna is Odisha FC women’s captain due to her experience levels and sturdy nature at the back. The 33-year-old Odisha-born defender is a wily figure at the back, knowing how to stop opposition attackers in their tracks. Her special connection to Odisha makes her an ideal captain for the Kalinga Warriors, as she wears her heart on her sleeve to fight for her state.

But Pyari Xaxa has arguably been Odisha WFC’s best investment since their inception. She has scored over 20 goals across the last two seasons and seems to be only getting better with her clinical goal-scoring prowess.   

Odisha FC women’s rivalries and special affiliations

As they have only been around for around two years, Odisha FC’s women’s side haven’t formed any extremely intense rivalries with any teams. However, they have their share of rivalries in terms of fellow Odisha clubs or other IWL ones.

In the IWL at least, the Juggernauts have shared a pretty competitive rivalry with Gokulam Kerala WFC. It was the Malabarians who knocked them out of the 2022-23 IWL quarter-finals with a slender win. Odisha FC women managed to hit back by piping them to the 2023-24 IWL title, winning it by a two-point margin after defeating them in their home game.

In doing so, the Juggernauts also managed to end Gokulam Kerala’s dominance in the IWL after they had clinched the 2021-22 and 2022-23 titles. They also stopped the Kerala side from qualifying for the first-ever AFC Women’s Champions League, hurting their sentiments. The rivalry between these two sides are likely to get even more fiery in the next few years.

Odisha FC women also have a rivalry with Sports Odisha women FC. It’s quite a one-sided rivalry because of the sheer amount of quality in the Odisha FC women’s side. The Kalinga Warriors easily won both their fixtures against Sports Odisha in the 2023-24 IWL season, picking up 4-0 and 3-1 wins respectively.

Odisha FC women are also fortunate enough to be affiliated with some well-known clubs. The Juggernauts have a partnership with Watford FC, in which the Championship side’s coaches often travel to India to travel with the Odisha players. Moreover, the partnership is also tasked with helping develop Women’s Football in Odisha and improve the quality of the Odisha FC women’s side too.

The Kalinga Warriors also have an affiliation with Brazilian side Avai FC. This was the first-time a Brazilian club signed a partnership with an Indian side. As part of the agreement, Avai FC has vowed to help Odisha develop quality players from the state and improve the grassroots level at the club too. The Odisha FC women’s team are definitely on an upward trajectory.

If they’re able to sign a few more quality foreign players and keep a hold of the Indian internationals, then the Juggernauts should be able to compete strongly in the 2024-25 AFC Women’s Champions League and represent the country proudly.

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