The Indian Super League (ISL) 2022-23 hits the midway point of the season this week as Odisha FC prepare to keep their perfect home record intact when they face ATK Mohun Bagan in matchweek 11 at the Kalinga Stadium, in Bhubaneswar, on Thursday.
In order to successfully defend their home record, the Juggernauts will have to defeat the Mariners – a feat they have not achieved in the ISL yet.
The Kalinga Warriors were gaining fine momentum over the last few weeks after winning three games in a row but the streak came to a halt the past weekend as they lost 3-0 to FC Goa.
The club’s top-scorer this season, Nandhakumar Sekar, was red-carded in the second half against FC Goa. The winger has started every game this season and has scored four goals so far. The unavailability of Sekar will be challenging for the Juggernauts. Isak Vanlalruatfela could have been the replacement, but Isak himself is out with an injury.
“We have different options that we can use in this [left wing] position. We are thinking deeply about who will replace Nandha, but that is something people will find out [just] before the match,” said Gombau. “Last week, we did well in Goa, but after being reduced to ten men, the result did not go in our favour. I am satisfied with the players’ approach. Retaining the same mentality, we go into the game tomorrow and will try to get points at home,” he added.
ATK Mohun Bagan will be aiming for their fourth win on the bounce for the first time since the ISL 2020-21 season. On this three-game winning streak, the Mariners have shown how defensively astute they are by keeping three successive clean sheets – all three wins have been by a one-goal margin.
Dimitri Petratos has nine goal contributions in eight games for the Mariners. The striker is ATK Mohun Bagan’s top-scorer with four goals and also leads their assists chart with five under his belt so far. Ashique Kuruniyan came in to replace the injured Manvir Singh on the flank, and the side have not felt the absence of the latter ever since.
“The match [against Odisha FC] will not be easy. They are one of the strongest teams alongside Hyderabad and Mumbai City. They have gotten off to a good start this season with many good performances,” said ATKMB head coach Juan Ferrando. “We play away, and it is difficult when we play away. It will be a difficult match, but we have a plan in place. This week is very important for us,” he added
The two sides have met on four occasions in the ISL. The Mariners have won two of those games, and the other two have ended in draws. The Juggernauts are yet to beat ATK Mohun Bagan in the league. Last season, both encounters between these sides ended in draws. (ANI)