Bhubaneswar: Chennaiyin FC will face the task of denting Odisha FC’s stellar home form in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) at the Kalinga Stadium here on Thursday.
The Marina Machans have looked sharp on the road so far, having won both their away games but Odisha FC have been tough to challenge at home.
Odisha FC are coming into this game after a stunning comeback victory against East Bengal FC last week at the Salt Lake Stadium. The Juggernauts were trailing by two goals at half-time when head coach Josep Gombau decided to make four substitutions for the second half. The gamble paid off as parity was restored just three minutes into the second half, and the game ended 4-2 in favour of Odisha FC.
Pedro Martin was one of the four substitutes that made the biggest impact. It was his quick brace that drew Odisha FC level before they went on to win. Pedro is yet to start a game for the Juggernauts this season, while the goals have dried up for Diego Mauricio. To deploy both strikers together would mean dropping either Osama Malik or Saul Crespo to the bench.
“Depending on the opposition team, we adjust ourselves. We change the way we attack and press. Against Chennaiyin, we will do the same,” said Gombau. “We have a few players that are not 100 per cent, but we have a good squad. Last week the substitutes made a big impact in our comeback win. This shows that every single player can play,” he added.
Chennaiyin FC will be in good spirits coming into this game after securing their first home win of the season against 2021-22 Hero ISL Shield winners Jamshedpur FC. The Marina Machans also had to rely on their bench for decisive goals after the Red Miners had reinstated parity in the final quarter of the match.
In their first involvement on the pitch after coming on, Abdenasser El Khayati and Vincy Barretto combined as the latter scored with his first touch to put Chennaiyin FC back in front. Less than ten minutes later, El Khayati put the game to bed.
Head coach Thomas Brdaric will be pleased with his side’s performance in front of goal. Another boost for the German is the availability of Kwame Karikari. The Ghanaian has also been used as an impact substitute in the past. The Marina Machans are likely to stick to the same lineup and keep impact subs handy in case Odisha FC strike late.
“We analysed Odisha. They try to implement their strengths in the game; the biggest one is offence. They know how to score, and we are working on how to deny them,” said Brdaric.
“It has been a short week, so we did not have much time to prepare for the next match. We are still working and know that we cannot afford to give them any space tomorrow,” he added.
Odisha FC are winless in their last four ISL games against Chennaiyin FC. In total, the sides have faced each other six times in the Hero ISL. Half of those games ended in draws, while Chennaiyin FC have secured two wins. The only win for the Juggernauts in this fixture came in the 2019-20 season at the Kalinga Stadium.