Technically, they are one of the new outfits to join the Indian Super League (ISL) bandwagon -- country's top-tier football league. But Odisha FC has the league experience. Many believe that their souls still roam the streets of the national capital, where they used to compete as Delhi Dynamos. In an off-season relocation, or rather transplantation, Dynamos moved to Odisha, the new hub of Indian sports, and now are known as the Odisha Football Club. That's there brief history. And they are only months old. But that doesn't make a rookie. (Football News)
Home Ground: Kalinga Stadium, Bhubaneswar, Odisha.
Highlights Over The Years (As Delhi Dynamos)
2014 - They entered the league as a favourite, at least on paper, with the likes of Alessandro Del Piero. But finished fifth in the inaugural season after with 18 points from four wins and four draws. They lost six.
2015 - Brazil great Roberto Carlos arrived with much fanfare as the coach-cum-player and they made it to the semis after finishing fourth in the league stage. But lost to Goa in the two-legged semis. Florent Malouda was another big name in the squad.
2016 - Delhi association with big names continued. This time they brought in Gianluca Zambrotta. And made the semis for the second successive season after finishing third in the league stage. But lost to Kerala Blasters.
2017-18 - Then arrived days of struggle. Finished eighth under Miguel Angel Portugal after managing to win five in 18 matches. Lost nine and drew four.2018-19 - The script continued. Josep Gambau arrived as the new manager with lots of hopes, but Spaniard failed to inspire, winning only four in 18 outings. But he has been entrusted to see Odisha FC's induction.
They have retained only two foreign players in the form of Marcos Tebar and Francisco Dorronsoro but still has the core players from the Dynamos days. Prominent arrivals are former Bengaluru player Xisco Hernandez and his fellow Spaniards Carlos Delgado and Aridane Santana. The outfit has a strong Iberian flavour with as many as five Spaniards, including skipper Tebar and first-choice goalkeeper Dorronsoro. Lallianzuala Chhangte, who moved to Chennaiyin FC, will be missed.
Goalkeepers - Francisco Dorronsoro, Albino Gomes, Arshdeep Singh (from Minerva Punjab), Ankit Bhuyan;
Defenders - Carlos Delgado (from CD Castellon), Gaurav Bora (Pune FC), Rana Gharami, Amit Tudu, Mohammad Sajid Dhot, Narayan Das, Pradeep Mohanraj, Fanai Lalchhuanmawia (Chhuantea Fanai);
Midfielders - S Lalhrezuala, Marcos Tebar, Diawandou Diagne (from KAS Eupen), Bikramjit Singh, Vinit Rai, Martin Perez Guedes (from Racing Club II), Adria Carmona, Jerry Mawihmingthanga (from Jamshedpur FC), Xisco Hernandez (from Bengaluru FC), Nandha Kumar Sekar, Romeo Fernandes;
Forwards - Aridane Santana (from Cultural Leonesa, on loan), Daniel Lalhlimpuia, Seiminmang Manchong, Shubham Sarangi
Coach: Josep Gombau.
He is a trusted man-manager and knows his trade well. But translating that knowledge into action is an altogether different thing, as seen in the previous season. After honing his skills as a youth coach of Espanyol and then Barcelona, the 43-year-old move Down Under and landed the job of Australia U-23. He was briefly in charge of the Socceroos. With such vast experience, he surely can help Odisha achieve great things. That's what the establishment believes.
Strengths And Weaknesses
The presence of core players from the last season is a definite plus point, and also with the arrival of Spaniard trio and Senegalese Diawandou Diagne and Argentine Martin Perez Guedes will further boost the bench strength. In Vinit Rai, Narayan Das and Daniel Lalhlimpuia, they too have good Indian talents.
But their defensive line looks little thin considering the nature of the league. Delgado, Das, Sajid Dhot sure starts but Gombau will need steady heads there to stop the leak - their
bane last season.
What To Expect
Expectations are high. But realistically, it will be a tough ask for Odisha FC to make the semis. A mid-table finish will be hailed as a good return.