Odisha FC need a point in their final league stage encounter against Jamshedpur FC in the Indian Super League (ISL) at the Kalinga Stadium on Wednesday to qualify for the playoffs, for the first time in their history.
The Juggernauts are in sixth place, three points clear of FC Goa and with a point, Odisha FC will advance to the ISL playoffs and breathe easy before FC Goa take the field on Thursday.
Odisha FC got off to a flyer in the first half of the season but faced a few hiccups in the latter stage. In the first ten games of this campaign, the Juggernauts won six and lost three. In the second half of the season, out of nine games, they have won three, lost four and drawn two. Two out of those three wins have come over the last couple of weeks.
After clinching a 3-1 win over NorthEast United FC last Friday, Odisha FC registered back-to-back wins in the ISL for the first time since the opening 3 match weeks. Nandhakumar Sekar ended his five-game barren spell with a sixth goal of the season and Diego Mauricio became the league’s joint-top scorer this season with Cleiton Silva after netting his 12th of the campaign.
“If we get a good result, we will take the final playoff spot. Our aim in the last league-phase home game of the season is to try and win the game and after that, we will keep an eye on the other results to see where we end up on the table,” said coach Josep Gombau as per an ISL press release.
“Jamshedpur FC is a very good team that won the league last season and they are getting good results in the last few games. But we are hungry and want to qualify for the playoffs for the first time,” he added.
Jamshedpur FC is unbeaten in their last three ISL games after winning two and drawing one. In these three games, Jamshedpur FC has kept two clean sheets and scored five goals, conceding just two.
Last Saturday, against a second-string Hyderabad FC side, Jamshedpur FC notched an impressive 3-2 win. Daniel Chuku and Ritwik Das were on the scoresheet again, each scoring their fifth goal of the season. The Red Miners will be without Eli Sabia as the defender received a straight red against Hyderabad FC.
“It has been a long time since we last played each other on that monsoon evening in October. We were beaten by a last-minute goal and that really hurt,” said coach Aidy Boothroyd.
“Odisha are a very good team and are playing really well. We want to see if we can finish strong as well. There has been a considerable upturn in our form over the last ten games. We are happy with that, but disappointed that we are not going to the playoffs,” he added.
In the seven ISL meetings between the two sides, Jamshedpur FC has emerged victorious on four occasions, while Odisha FC has won two. One of those two victories came in the reverse when the Juggernauts beat the Red Miners 3-2. (ANI)