Odisha vs Chennaiyin: Preview and Prediction
The Indian Super League is back as the 2023-24 ISL season is set to get underway and one of the marquee games of matchday 1 will feature Odisha as they host Chennaiyin at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneshwar on Saturday. The first double-header weekend of the new campaign will see Mohun Bagan Super Giant in action against Punjab later in the day.
The Juggernauts come into their league opener on the back of a 4-0 hammering at the hands of the Mariners in their opening game of the AFC Cup on Tuesday. On the other hand, the Marina Machans were last in action on September 15 as they played out a 1-1 draw in a friendly game against Mohammedan.
After a disappointing show in the playoffs last year, the club from Bhubaneshwar have appointed Sergio Lobera who is a proven performer on Indian shores. The team remains under transition as they adapt to the Spaniard’s blueprint looking to challenge for the top four this term.
Similarly, the two-time ISL winners had a disappointing season last year and in their bid to reach their heights of the past, the club from Chennai have roped in Owen Coyle once again. The Scotsman led the Marina Machans to the ISL final in 2019-20 and will be hoping for a repeat of those heroics this campaign.
Talking about the hosts first, Lobera’s men were given a harsh reality check ahead of the new campaign as they suffered a big defeat in their AFC Cup opener. Mourtada Fall was sent off in the first half, resulting in a total collapse in the second half.
The Juggernauts however will take heart from their resolute display before the break and will hope to repeat those efforts in their ISL opener. Having failed to make it into the knockout rounds of the 132nd Durand Cup, the reserve team managed just three points from as many games.
The Bhubaneshwar-based franchise also played out two friendlies, a 1-1 draw with Bangkok FC, followed by a 1-0 win over Hua Hin City. The club have reinforced heavily undergoing a complete revamp from last season. Their foreign signings include renowned names such as Ahmed Jahouh, Mourtada Fall, Roy Krishna and Cy Goddard.
Laldinliana Renthlei, Jerry Lalrinzuala, Lenny Rodrigues, Amey Ranawade, and Puitea headline some of the big-name domestic signings for the upcoming season.
Coming to the Marina Machans, after three consecutive 8th place finishes they will be hoping that Coyle can rework his magic. Rafael Crivellaro and Jordan Murray have been retained, Anirudh Thapa’s departure was a big loss but the club has roped in Ayush Adhikari to fill the void. The arrivals of Sarthak Golui, Farukh Choudhary, Lazar Cirkovic, and Cristian Battocchio offer excitement to fans.
The two-time ISL winners defeated Kalighat MS 4-0 in a friendly back in July before they played out two back-to-back stalemates against Mohameddan once in July and then earlier this month. In the Durand Cup, the Marina Machans topped Group E winning all their games before they were ousted by Goa 4-1 in the quarter-final.
These two clubs have faced off against each other 18 times previously, the Kalinga Warriors have claimed seven wins while the Marina Machans have only won three times, with the remaining 8 matches ending all square.
The last these teams met was in February earlier this year when the ISL clash ended 2-2. Thapa and Abdenessar El Khayati scored for the Marina Machans cancelling Mauricio and Isak Vanlalruatfela’s goals.
While Lobera is likely to go with the same team that played against the Mariners with maybe a few changes here and there, it will be interesting to see how Coyle’s side will lineup in their season opener.
The two-time ISL champions completed their sixth and final foreign signing less than 24 hours before the league’s opening game. They signed English defender Ryan Edwards to add more steel to their backline, however, it remains to be seen whether Edwards will play a part against the Juggernauts as he reached India on Wednesday.
Aniket Jadhav and Narender Gahlot will miss the game as they have been released to join up with the Indian team for the Asian Games. Similarly, Rahim Ali and Vincy Barreto are also in Hangzhou and Coyle won’t be able to call upon the duo.
Predicted Starting XIs
Odisha (4-3-3): Amrinder Singh; Amey Ranawade, Carlos Javier, Mourtada Fall, Jerry Lalrinzuala; Lenny Rodrigues, Ahmed Jahouh, CY Goddard; Jerry Mawihmingthanga, Diego Mauricio, Roy Krishna.
Chennaiyin (4-3-3): Samik Mitra; Sachu Siby, Bikash Yumnam, Sarthak Golui, Aakash Sangwan; Jiteshwor Singh, Cristian Battocchio, Rafael Crivellaro; Farukh Choudhary, Jordan Murray, Connor Shields.
Despite their recent 4-0 slump, Lobera’s side gave plenty of positive signs in their AFC Cup game and they will be expected to dominate plenty of possession against the Marina Machans.
Coyle is a pragmatic coach, and his side would be very much capable of hurting their opponents on the break. The visiting team would be reliant on their overseas players for the firepower while the duo of Roy Krishna and Diego Mauricio would be pivotal for the hosts.