This season will see a number of homecomings for the Juggernauts at the Kalinga Stadium.
Odisha FC have not made it to the ISL playoffs ever since it rechristened itself in 2019. This year, they will have a good chance, as six teams are set to qualify for the knockouts. Coach Josep Gombau is back with Odisha after a gap. He knows the league well and will look to start on the right note.
The Juggernauts have changed all their foreigners from last season and under Gombau, will look to play more attacking football. They have made a good start to the season, playing the Durand Cup, in which they scored 13 goals in five matches and conceded just two.
Let’s have a look at how Odisha FC can line up in the upcoming ISL 2022-23 season.
Goalkeeper: Lalthuammawia Ralte
The 29-year-old has the experience of playing in both ISL and I-League. He was part of the Bengaluru FC setup, but couldn’t get any game time with Indian No. #1 Gurpreet Singh Sandhu ahead of him. His performance in the Durand Cup has been good this season; he did not concede any goal in the group stage.
Ralte made a huge mistake in the quarter-finals of the Durand Cup in the dying minutes and needs to show composure and ability to play under pressure.
Right-Back: Shubham Sarangi
Shubham Sarangi is back after an injury hiatus and will look to make his mark in the ISL. He was a preferred starter in the Durand Cup and performed well, delivering some delightful crosses. He has the experience of playing 40 ISL games and would be vital to Odisha FC’s setup.
Centre-Back: Carlos Delgado
Carlos Delgado returns to his former club Odisha FC and would be replacing Victor Mongil in the CB position. In his previous stint with Odisha, he had played 16 games, scoring once. This year, it would be even more special, as he will be donning the captain’s armband with more responsibility.
Centre-Back: Narender Gahlot
The ISL Shield Winner from last season, Narender will form an important combination with Delgado. He played a vital role in Jamshedpur FC’s golden run last year combining with Peter Hartley. He was a preferred starter in all the Durand Cup games this season where Odisha FC performed very well.
Left-Back: Sahil Panwar
Sahil was with Odisha FC last year and had played seven games. He performed well in the Durand Cup, providing the important assist through a free-kick in the Quarter-final clash against Bengaluru FC. Along with his defence, he will also look to provide quality crosses from the left flank.
Central Midfield: Osama Malik
Osama Malik will fill up the Asian quota and will primarily play in the defensive midfield position. The 31-year-old has the experience of playing over 150 matches in the A-league and has performed the dual role of playing both in defence and defensive midfielder positions. He has already played four matches in the Durand Cup and will look to further get used to the conditions.
Central Midfield: Raynier Fernandes
On loan from Mumbai City FC, Raynier is set to play a vital role in the midfield. Raynier, unlike Osama, will look to play more offensively, providing quality balls in the attacking third and creating goal-scoring opportunities.
Right-Wing: Jerry Mawihmingthanga
25-year-old Jerry Mawihmingthanga is one of the most capped players for Odisha FC, having played 56 games. Ahead of the ISL season, he has scored in most of the matches he has played in the Durand Cup and looks more aggressive than ever. Jerry hasn’t scored many goals in the past, but with the ability he possesses, he will look to change it this time around.
Attacking Midfield: Saul Crespo
This will be Crespo’s first foreign tour outside Spain. He has also started his campaign on a strong note, having scored three goals in the five matches he played in the Durand Cup. In the past, he has also helped strengthen his team’s defence, by playing in the backline. However, at Odisha FC, he will look to play an aggressive game.
The left winger has been playing for Odisha FC since its inception and has been a key member. Last season, he was not a regular starter under Kiko, but this year he has been provided with the captain’s armband in the Durand Cup. In the first game against Northeast United, he proved his ability with quality assists from the left-wing. He would look to do the same consistently.
Forward: Diego Mauricio
Like Delgado, Mauricio is also making a comeback to his former club. He scored more than half of the team goals in ISL season 7 and later also played at Mumbai City. But there, he played just seven games, scoring three goals. This year, he has to compete with Pedro, who looks good with his gameplay. However, Diego has the ISL experience and is expected to be the preferred starter.