The Indian Super League (ISL) team Odisha FC is set to make their Super Cup debut against 2018 runners-up East Bengal FC at the Payyanad Stadium in Manjeri, Kerala, on Sunday.
After four seasons in the Hero ISL, Odisha FC finally managed to qualify for the play-offs in sixth place but they were defeated 0-2 by eventual champions ATK Mohun Bagan. The Super Cup will present the Odisha boys with another opportunity to clinch their first silverware.
For the winners, a Club Playoff slot for the AFC Cup will also be available, which has garnered interest from Odisha FC head coach Clifford Miranda.
“The AFC Cup slot is very important, so we want to give our best like all the other 16 teams that are vying for that place,” Miranda said.
“There are no easy teams in this league-cum-knockout tournament. We’ve had two training sessions so far, and we are trying to adapt to the Kerala heat, but the conditions are the same for all teams,” Miranda added.
The Odisha FC supporters and the head coach Miranda were thrilled by the ISL Golden Boot winner Diego Mauricio’s recent contract renewal. They will be anticipating more of his heroics in the Super Cup and for the squad to win their first trophy at the upcoming competition.
“We would love to have Diego repeat his Hero ISL performances here in Kerala – not just in terms of scoring goals, but also working for the team as a unit,” Miranda added.
Odisha FC and East Bengal FC played out two thrilling encounters in the ISL this season, both of which went the former’s way (4-2 in Kolkata and 3-1 in Bhubaneswar). The fans will be in for another fascinating encounter between two teams that will be looking to finish strong and gain some consistency.
“Irrespective of the scoreline, both games were close. It’s going to be tight against them again, so we have to play to the best of our abilities,” Miranda said.
East Bengal FC head coach Stephen Constantine stated that his side deserved more from both those games. The Red and Gold Brigade certainly will be in the game looking for a result for the fans to cheer on.
“We should’ve won the first one (when East Bengal were 2-0 up) and at least drawn the second one. Hopefully, we get the result that we want on Sunday,” Miranda said.
Like Miranda, Constantine also believes that the AFC Cup spot will be the biggest motivation for the players in the Hero Super Cup. However, to get that far, his team will need to be at their best and need to pull up their socks as every team will be giving it their all where the competition is going to be stiff.
“It’s going to be three difficult games. We came here to qualify from the group, and we want to do that,” Miranda continued.
East Bengal will hope to go one step better than they did in the 2018 edition of the Hero Super Cup, where they eliminated Mumbai City FC, Aizawl FC, and FC Goa before losing out to Bengaluru FC in the final in Bhubaneswar. (ANI)