Odisha FC’s Continental Dream Ends in 0-0 Stalemate

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Central Coast Mariners solidified their position in the Inter-Zone final of the AFC Cup 2023-24 after a goalless draw against Odisha FC at Kalinga Stadium on Thursday. Mark Jackson’s squad clinched a 4-0 aggregate victory over the Indian Super League team.

Despite Mikael Doka’s first-half penalty miss for the A-League side, it had little impact as they entered the second leg with a comfortable 4-0 lead from the first leg in Gosford the previous week. The Mariners are now set to face Abdysh-Ata Kant from Kyrgyz Republic in the upcoming Inter-Zone final, following Islam Ahmedov’s team’s triumph over Taichung Futuro from Chinese Taipei.

The opening leg of the Inter-Zone final is scheduled to take place in Bishkek on April 17, with the return leg in Gosford one week later.

Arriving in India with confidence after their convincing victory in the initial encounter between the teams, Jackson’s squad commenced the second leg brightly. Ronald Barcellos aimed to capitalize on an early defensive error by Odisha but was denied as goalkeeper Amrinder Singh blocked Angel Torres’ close-range effort moments later.

Odisha FC
The players of Central Coast Mariners lined up before facing Odisha FC at the Kalinga Stadium

The Mariners were presented with an opportunity to break the deadlock when Ryan Edmondson was brought down by Carlos Delgado, prompting referee Majed Al Shamrani to award a penalty. However, Doka, who successfully converted a penalty in the first leg, failed to capitalize, hitting the left post after sending Amrinder the wrong way.

Despite facing challenging conditions, the Mariners found themselves unable to replicate the dominant performance they had displayed in their previous encounter. However, they maintained their status as the more threatening side throughout the match. A pivotal moment arose when Odisha defender Mourtada Fall was compelled to divert Max Balard’s free-kick wide under pressure from Edmondson. Moments later, Edmondson himself missed a golden opportunity, misdirecting his volley into the side-netting in the 61st minute.

Approaching the game’s conclusion, Christian Theoharous unleashed a low shot that was expertly saved by Odisha’s goalkeeper, Amrinder. Theoharous had been skillfully set up in the penalty area by Doka, highlighting the Mariners’ persistent attacking intent. Additionally, substitute Miguel Di Pizio made a late attempt on goal, only for his effort to be deflected wide. Despite these missed opportunities, the Mariners comfortably secured their advancement to the next stage of the tournament.

Read More: Odisha FC stunned in Australia as Central Coast Mariners earn a resounding 4-0 victory

Throughout their journey to the Inter-Zone final, the Mariners have demonstrated remarkable resilience and strategic acumen. Confronted with formidable opponents and adverse conditions, they have consistently showcased unwavering determination and adaptability.

Much credit for the team’s success must be attributed to the leadership of Mark Jackson. His guidance has been instrumental in navigating the complexities of the AFC Cup competition. Jackson’s tactical astuteness and adeptness at motivating players have emerged as pivotal factors in the Mariners’ triumphs on the field.

In conclusion, the Mariners’ progression to the Inter-Zone final underscores their tenacity and tactical prowess. Despite encountering obstacles along the way, they have exhibited a relentless pursuit of success, laying a solid foundation for their continued advancement in the tournament.

Odisha FC
Players of Odisha FC and Central Coast Mariners battle it out against each other in the AFC Cup

The remarkable performances of key players like Mikael Doka, Ronald Barcellos, and Ryan Edmondson have been pivotal to the Mariners’ success in the AFC Cup 2023-24. Their blend of skill, determination, and teamwork has shone brightly throughout the campaign, driving the team towards victory.

The Mariners’ impressive journey in the tournament stands as a testament to the depth and resilience of Australian football. Their remarkable achievements not only demonstrate their prowess on the field but also underline the potential for further growth and development within the Australian football landscape.

As they gear up to face Abdysh-Ata Kant in the Inter-Zone final, the Mariners are poised to leverage their collective experiences and strengths. With their sights firmly set on continental glory, they are determined to uphold the proud tradition of Australian football. Their unwavering commitment to excellence will serve as the driving force behind their pursuit of victory in the upcoming final showdown. As for Odisha, the Juggernauts will shift their focus back to the ISL as they take on Bengaluru FC after the international break.


Follow IFTWC for more updates on Indian football.

Ishayu Gupta
Ishayu Gupta
Mohun Bagan, Madrid and more!

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