Boasting a host of gifted young players and an influential veteran presence & their leadership, many will tip Odisha FC to attain a place atop the “best of the rest” table. The 2019-20 ISL season ended Odisha FC’s campaign in a way that their fans wouldn’t have expected it to end. Although they played and did manage to display the bright, sublime, attractive and attacking style of football but on the other hand, they lacked experience in their squad and that’s what cost them a place in the playoffs last season.
The club did manage to acquire the services of experienced former South African National coach, Stuart Baxter for the upcoming season. Stuart Baxter will surely help the team to perform and give every other team a run for their money, because of the kind of experience he has and kind of players he has worked with previously. Baxter has tasted a lot of success in the past with the South African National team and also with a very well renowned South African club, Kaizer Chiefs.
Odisha has retained some of it’s best Indian players from last season like Shubham Sarangi and Nandha Kumar to strengthen their Indian contingent. They have also signed a bunch of talented players like Hendry Antonay, Saurabh Meher, Paul Ramfangzauva, Isak Vanlalruatfela, and many others.
Stuart Baxter did install several new lights in the squad after his appointment hoping it will burn brighter and longer. Odisha pulled off real coups in the transfer window in the form of Marcelinho, Manuel Onwu, Jacob Tratt, Diego Mauricio, Cole Alexander and also a veteran like Steven Taylor who was wooed in from Wellington Phoenix for the upcoming ISL season.
Odisha FC has got a lot of young talented defenders in the roster, and to lead and whip all the young talents into shape, they have signed former Newcastle player, Steven Taylor. They have also got players like Shubham Sarangi, Sajid Dhot and Gaurav Bora who have had the experience of playing in ISL last season. Shubham Sarangi was evidently a fan favourite and it’s fair to say that he deserved all the turn of appreciation for the kind of quality show he managed to pull off on the ground. George D’Souza will surely be an integral part of Odisha FC in the upcoming season. He’s a defender who can be very effective in the attack as well as in defence. With his physicality and goal-scoring ability, he can turn out to be the perfect left-back Odisha were looking for. While some might turn out to be very optimistic about Gaurav Bora, at the present he’s still young and has got to learn from his companions like Steven Taylor. Although Gaurav managed to impress a lot of people last season it would be very unlikely to see him starting ahead Jacob Tratt.
Everyone knew that coach Baxter will surely bring in a South African player to strengthen his midfield department. He managed to bring in former South African National team player, Alexander Cole on a two-year contract. Cole is regarded as one of the best midfielders in South Africa and his addition in the squad can only do good for Odisha. They’ve also signed players like Bodo, Thoiba, Samuel lalmuanpuia while current Indian National team player, Vinit Rai was already on a contract with the Kalinga Warriors. The club has also brought in ISL proven player, Marcelinho from Hyderabad FC for the upcoming season. Marcelinho is surely a quality player with good potentials to score a lot of goals.
Odisha’s strength probably lies in their forward line. Arguably, Odisha has managed to build a really good squad with a lot of quality attacking players. Odisha has signed Manuel Onwu, who scored 7 goals in just 4 matches for Odisha FC last season. It would be really interesting to see if Onwu would be able to finish what he started with Odisha last year in the latter half of the season. Odisha has quality Indian wingers like Jerry Mawihmingthanga, Nandha, Isak, Premjit, and also experienced Brazilian player, Diego Mauricio. Diego has had the opportunity of playing with some of the biggest Brazilian names like Neymar and Ronaldinho. His experience will surely bring a lot to the team and will help the young ones to learn more from him.
If Baxter plays with his usual 4-2-3-1 formation, then this might be Odisha’s best lineup for the upcoming season.