The 2019-20 season witnessed the inaugural season for Odisha FC, following the dissolution of what was Delhi Dynamos. The new club based out of Odisha managed a decent showing in their first-ever season in the Indian Super League as they managed a sixth-placed finish on the league table.
However the club has opted for a ground-up rebuild this season. With incoming coach Stuart Baxter preferring a much more expansive manner of play, there have been as many as 18 new signings. Let's take a look at five players who can make a difference for Odisha FC in the 2020-21 season of the ISL.
5 key players for Odisha FC in ISL 2020-21
1) Steven Taylor
Among the first few to sign for Odisha FC was center-back Steven Taylor. The former Newcastle United stalwart is perhaps the most prolific name to enter the ISL this season, barring Vicente Gomez and Gary Hooper. The 34-year-old is a veteran of the Premier League, having played for the Magpies for 13 years before making the move away.
Apart from his solidity in defense, Taylor is also known for his leadership, and has captained several teams across his career. Coach Stuart Baxter will most certainly be banking on his experience as he looks to better Odisha FC's performance from the previous season.
Marcelinho's name sends shivers down the spines of defenders in the ISL. Having first come into the league with the now-defunct Delhi Dynamos in 2016, the Brazilian managed 10 goals from just 15 appearances. He also played two seasons with Pune City, and is the third-highest goalscorer in the ISL with 31 goals to his name.
The 33-year-old most recently played for Hyderabad FC, and managed seven goals from 17 appearances. This time around, he will be expected to continue his goal scoring record for Odisha FC, and will be partnered in attack with Spaniard Manuel Onwu.
3) Vinit Rai
The 2019-20 season witnessed young Vinit Rai play second fiddle to the likes of Xisco Hernandez and captain Marcos Tebar in Odisha FC's central midfield. However, with both the Spaniards not part of the squad this season, the onus will fall on the youngster to partner with the likes of Cole Alexander in the midfield.
The 23-year-old is also an important part of the Indian national side, having made 11 appearances since his debut in 2018. Stuart Baxter will be hoping that Rai will be able to recapture some of the form he has shown previously with Delhi Dynamos.
4) Arshdeep Singh
Similar to Vinit Rai, goalkeeper Arshdeep Singh is a youngster coming through the ranks of Indian football. The previous season witnessed Odisha FC's number one goalkeeping slot divided rather equally between Arshdeep and Spaniard Francisco Dorronsoro.
However, with the 35-year-old Spaniard not retained by the club this time around, Arshdeep will be the main custodian. And with the likes of Steven Taylor and Jacob Tratt marshaling the defensive unit in front of him, the 23-year-old is expected to have a decent outing in goal.
5) Cole Alexander
31-year-old South African Cole Alexander will perhaps be the most important player in the middle of the park as far as Stuart Baxter is concerned. Over the years, Alexander has gained the reputation of being somewhat of a midfield powerhouse, and his box-to-box prowess has been sought-after by many clubs over the years.
This time around, Alexander is contracted to Odisha FC and will be expected to come up with the goods as he has done before in his career. He will be joined in midfield by the likes of Vinit Rai and Diawandou Diagne.Published 20 Oct 2020, 19:52 IST