Indian Super League (ISL) side Odisha FC have made quite an impression of being regarded as the dark horse of the tournament in just one season of operations. The Bhubaneswar-based side has some excellent foreign signings along with a young Indian squad and will be hoping to make it to the top four for the first time.
How will Odisha FC line up?
Goalkeeper: Arshdeep Singh
Odisha FC have quite a decent amount of experience in the goalkeeping department. Experienced campaigners like Ravi Kumar, Kamaljit Singh and Arshdeep Singh are part of the goalkeeping line-up.
Youngster Ankit Bhuyan has also made the cut. Tough competition for the spot between the sticks is expected between the three established keepers. However, since Arshdeep Singh was a regular in the 2019-20 season for Odisha FC, he is expected to have the edge.
Defense: Jacob Tratt, Steven Taylor, Shubham Sarangi, George D'Souza
Odisha FC defense can be one of the most resolute back-fours in the league. Spearheaded by former Newcastle United central-defender Steven Taylor in the middle of the defense, the Juggernauts can hope to concede a lot lesser goals than the previous season.
Taylor will be accompanied by the former Perth Glory and Sydney FC center-back Jacob Tratt in the central defense. Odisha FC have a number of young and emerging defenders in the squad like Hendry Antonay, Gaurav Bora, Saurabh Meher and Kamalpreet Singh. However, the full-back positions are expected to be occupied by George D'Souza on the left and Shubham Sarangi on the right.
Midfield: Marcelinho, Samuel Lalmuanpuia, Cole Alexander, Nandha Kumar
Due to their impressive depth in the Indian contingent, it will be a tough contest between players to break into the starting line-up. The midfield positions will be led by experienced South African central-midfielder Cole Alexander. He primarily plays as a central midfielder and is a composed holder of possession. Alexander can undertake both defensive and creative roles in the middle of the pitch. His versatility will be crucial for Odisha FC. He can also shift to the left and right side of the pitch accordingly.
Young midfielder Samuel Lalmuanpuia could be used in tandem due to his on-the-ball abilities. His excellent ability to find players with key passes and lofted balls can turn vital for Odisha FC's chances in the upcoming season.
Experienced campaigner Marcelinho will return to the GMS-owned side for yet another stint. Marcelinho has exceptional on-the-ball skills and can score goals from unexpected positions. His expertise from the set-pieces will get Odisha FC some important goals. Marcelinho can also shift from his preferred left-midfield position to the left-winger and assist in a three-men attacking line-up. Young winger Nandha Kumar will take the right wing.
Forwards: Daniel Lalhlimpuia, Manuel Onwu
Touted as 'Mr. Odisha', Manuel Onwu returns to spearhead the Odisha FC line-up. He scored 7 goals and made 3 assists in the 2019-20 season and was the most important player in the squad.
Onwu will be expected to put in a similar shift for the second season and hope to drive Odisha FC to seal a play-off berth. He is expected to be supported by an Indian forward like Daniel Lahlimpuia to create link-up play. Diego Mauricio can also come handy for Odisha FC in attack.Published 18 Nov 2020, 18:39 IST