The newly-branded outfit failed to secure playoffs qualification in their debut season.
Odisha FC came into existence before the Indian Super League 2019-20 season, after changing their base from the national capital to Bhubaneswar. The side had a lot of controversy and fan ire to deal with in preparation for their first-ever campaign, after they moved base owing to management and infrastructural difficulties at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi.
The newly-branded outfit kept their faith in head coach Josep Gombau, who was given the chance to sign players that were to his liking and could execute his gameplay on the pitch, showcasing some of the best passing football in the campaign. His faith in his tactics resulted in a late surge in performances, which almost leapfrogged the team from the bottom half to playoffs qualification.
Losing striker Aridane Santana to injury could have derailed them, but loan signing Manuel Onwu, turned his debut season in the ISL on its head becoming one of the stories of the term.
After only three victories in their first 10 fixtures, the outfit managed to win four in their last eight games, thereby attaining a mid-table finish in the league standings.
Fact Sheet for Indian Super League Season 2019-20
Season Finished: 6th
Games Played: 18
Win %: 38.88
Top 3 Performers
Underperformer of the Season
Daniel Lalhlimpuia: Daniel Lalhlimpuia is often hailed as one of the most exciting young strikers in the country. After struggling for game-time at Bengaluru FC and during a loan spell at Chennaiyin FC, the forward found his feet in the ISL after his move to Delhi Dynamos in the previous campaign.
The 22-year old played 14 games that season and scored four goals as well. However, the youngster could not build on his promising start and could not register a single goal or assist in the current campaign with Odisha, having played 16 games overall.
Daniel’s performance in ISL 2019-20
Top 3 Performances
1. Mumbai City FC 2 – 4 Odisha FC
2. Odisha FC 3 – 2 Hyderabad FC
3. Odisha FC 2 – 1 NorthEast United FC
Manager’s Report Card
Josep Gombau, in his second stint with this group of players did improve on the eighth place finish by Dynamos in his first taste of the ISL in 2018-19. The Spanish tactician made decent signings before the start of the campaign and stuck to his tactics despite the mixed results, especially in the early part of the league.
The most notable effect the tactician had on the team was the visible playing style focused on possession-based football, where the attacks were built from the back. Investing in players that suited his gameplan was vital. Hence, results began to pick up as the season progressed and the team settled in their new home at the Kalinga Stadium.
It is a testament to the quality of his work in the ISL that the Spaniard is now set to join USL side Queensboro FC.
Lessons to be Learned
The team had to play the majority of their games in the first half of the season away from home. Moreover, they were also forced to make Pune their temporary home for a few games until the Kalinga Stadium was ready.
The outfit now seems more settled and must focus on improving upon their home form at the Kalinga Stadium. The squad also needs more prominent domestic players, which has been a secret to success for various other teams, as Odisha were heavily reliant on their foreign talents to deliver.
Apprehensions and excitement were equally high as it was our debut season in the ISL. We had a patchy start, but all credit to Josep Gombau who brought the team together and believed in his squad’s strengths.
This season was a revelation for youngsters like Shubham Sarangi, Jerry Mawihmingthanga and Nandhakumar Sekar, who have deservedly got a national camp call-up because of their outstanding performances. We could also see what home support means to the players and “The Juggernauts” could not be happier about that.
We are striving to promote the football culture in our state and looking forward to the next season for better results on and off the pitch.