The club have massively overhauled their squad for the upcoming season.
This season, Odisha FC have made a myriad of changes to their squad, from the head coach to the foreign players. They have also released several domestic players and replaced them with new ones. The objective for the club is to improve upon their mid-table finish in the Indian Super League 2019-20 campaign.
With the arrival of British coach Stuart Baxter, the club have signed several new foreign players, who will be making their debuts in the ISL. Here are the foreign players that will feature for the Juggernauts in the upcoming term:
In one of the most notable signings for the upcoming ISL season, former Newcastle United defender Steven Taylor was roped in by Odisha FC from Wellington Phoenix in the A-League. The Englishman is a stalwart in defence and has proved his mettle in the toughest league competition in the world.
Taylor will be a direct replacement for Carlos Delgado at the back and will aim to stop goals from leaking in. The 34-year-old will be making his debut appearance in the ISL and seems to be central to Baxter’s plans. The clear intention is to be better than last season and solidifying the defence is the first priority to achieve that.
Another player roped in to fortify the leaky backline is Jacob Tratt. The Australian right-back has been signed from Perth Glory in the A-League and will also make his debut appearance in the ISL once the new season starts. He has also played for clubs like Sydney FC, Wellington Phoenix and Sutherland Sharks.
Interestingly, the 25-year-old can play as a centre-back too and might partner Taylor to form a strong defensive core. His physical presence is one of the main attributes and his aerial proficiency will make him a threat from corners and free-kicks as well. Moreover, Jacob is in the peak of his career and still has good pace in his game to cover for nimble attackers making runs behind the backline. Being a full-back primarily, he also possesses good accuracy with his crossing and is calm on the ball too.
One of the two foreign players that were retained by Odisha FC from the previous season is Diawandou Diagne. The Senegalese player impressed in his debut campaign and showed his versatility by playing as a centre-back and also in a holding midfield role when needed.
The 26-year-old also has the capability of playing as a full-back thanks to his athleticism and composure on the ball. Baxter might play Diagne with Taylor as a centre-back pairing or shift him to a full-back position. A three-man defence is also a backup option for the tactician. Having Diagne as an experienced option provides good squad depth, considering that ISL games come thick and fast.
Cole Alexander will be making his debut appearance in the ISL 2020-21 and will get a taste of Indian football for the first time after he signed from Bidvest Wits, on a two-year deal. The South African has featured for sides like Vasco da Gama, Chippa United, Polokwane City and SuperSport United in the South African Premier League previously in his career.
The 31-year-old is chiefly a central midfielder, who can play both in an advanced No. 10 role or in a deeper No. 6 role to influence the game thanks to his passing range and ability to dribble out of tricky situations. Cole and Baxter have worked together before during the latter’s time coaching the South African national team.
One of the most talked-about transfers in the run-up to the new ISL campaign has to be Marcelinho to Odisha FC. The ISL veteran moved on from Hyderabad FC and acquiring him is a sign of intent by Odisha.
The Brazilian has 31 goals and 18 assists in the league so far and will definitely add to these numbers come the next season. His blistering speed and technique on the ball are one of the best. He is a threat on the counter-attack, owing to his dribbling and can manipulate the game thanks to his passing range. An overall powerhouse, Marcelinho will be central to Odisha’s success.
Another new recruit who will be featuring in Indian football for the first time is Diego Mauricio. The forward has been roped in from Centro Sportivo Alagoano, who play in Brazil’s second division league, Campeonato Brasileiro Série B. The 29-year-old has played all over the world including in South Korea, Saudi Arabia and China.
Interestingly, Mauricio was part of the Brazil U-20s squad that had superstars like, Neymar, Philippe Coutinho, Felipe Anderson and more. The striker brings buckets of experience and is still in his prime, where he can trouble defences with his pace, explosive strength and movement off the ball. Baxter will expect him to combine well with his new teammates.
One of the surprise packages from last season, Manuel Onwu turned his season around after signing for Odisha FC in the second half of ISL 2019-20. He had endured a terrible time at Bengaluru FC, but showed his true prowess after signing for the Bhubaneswar-based club. The Spanish forward signed for the Juggernauts on loan and managed to score seven goals as well as providing two assists in merely four games.
As a reward, the attacker has been signed permanently by the club on a year-long deal and will definitely lead the line for Baxter’s men. He has already shown his potential and is a threat with his heading ability, free-kick accuracy and potent finishing.