Odisha FC named after the coastal state located in the eastern part of India, made their debut in the 2019-20 season of ISL after GMS-owned Delhi Dynamos relocated their base. They play their home games at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar which has a seating capacity of 15000 for its football stadium. The Government of Odisha is actively promoting the state as a hub for India's sports events and getting an ISL club named after it will give them a massive boost.
For the upcoming 2020-21 ISL season, they will be captained by former Newcastle United defender Steven Taylor with whom he made over 200 appearances. The 34-year-old comes to India after a two-season stint with Wellington Phoenix in the A-League, where they finished in the third spot last season.
Odisha FC will be managed by former South Africa national team head coach Stuart Baxter. The Englishman began his nomadic coaching career managing in Sweden before leading various clubs in Finland, Japan, and Portugal, and South Africa. Baxter led South Africa to the African Cup of Nations quarter-finals in 2019 before resigning in August and signing a two-year deal with Odisha FC that will see him take charge till 2022.
Delhi Dynamos sold the majority of their shares in 2016 to Global Marketing Systems (GMS) Inc. GMS has offices across nine countries and was originally founded in the USA. They are one of the world's largest buyers of offshore assets and ships and are a pioneer in the ship recycling industry. The investment was made to add to the growing football market in India which has huge potential.
However, the club couldn't justify renting the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Delhi given the poor stadium attendance figures. The management tried to strike a deal with other stadiums in the capital but ultimately decided to shift their base to Bhubaneswar.
Odisha FC was founded in 2019 retaining the coaching staff and players of Delhi Dynamos.
Trajectory in the ISL
Although Odisha FC looked set to qualify for the playoffs, the club ended up finishing at the sixth spot with 25 points. However, the club gave playing time to a lot of Indian youth players like Jerry Mawihmingthanga, Nandhakumar Sekar, Vinit Rai, and Arshpreet Singh who benefited immensely and looked sharper as the season ended.
The team scored 28 goals and conceded 31 goals in their inaugural season and ended up with a negative overall goal difference.
Key Players for 2020-21
Marcelinho will be the key player for Odisha FC, having won the Golden Boot with Delhi Dynamos in 2016. The opponents should be wary of his lethal set-pieces and ability to carve open play with his passes.
Nicknamed Mr. Odisha, Manuel Onwu is another foreign signing the fans should keep an eye on as he scored 7 goals in 4 appearances for the team after coming on loan from Bengaluru FC in January.
Odisha FC will miss the services of Aridane Santana who joined Hyderabad FC for the coming season after he scored 9 goals in 14 matches. Xisco Hernandez is another name that will be missing from Odisha FC's squad after the management decided against retaining him despite having a brilliant campaign with them last season.