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Indian Super League

ISL 2019-20: Odisha FC attack performing a notch below their potential

4:45 PM SGT 12/12/19
Odisha FC v Hyderabad FC
Josep Gombau's men won by just one goal against Hyderabad and could easily have widened the gap....

A 3-2 win over Hyderabad FC meant that Odisha FC climbed to the sixth position in the Indian Super League (ISL) table with nine points in eight games. Carlos Delgado, Xisco Hernandez and Martin Perez Guedes were on target as Josep Gombau’s men just about bagged all three points despite playing a good part of the second half with just 10 men.

Odisha have scored 11 goals in the league so far this season. Seven of those (63.63 percent) have come in just two games. This statistic does not read well for a team competing in a league that requires consistency over 18 games. Nor does the fact that Delgado’s opener was their first goal at home this season.

That said, it’s refreshing to see them back in the goals after drawing blanks in three of their last four games. The tone contains a hint of negativity because the expectations are higher from this Odisha side that can do so much more.

The front-line of Nandhakumar, Aridane Santana, and Jerry Mawihmingthanga with Xisco Hernandez in the number 10 role have a fair bit of threat about them going forward. Xisco, the former Bengaluru FC midfielder, has assumed the role of the protagonist at Odisha and has done incredibly well so far.

Besides the four goals he has scored, he has brought around the much-needed cohesion within the attack and has proved effective on the counter. Santana too has four goals to his name and has been crucial even in games where he has not found the back of the net. His performance against Hyderabad is a good example of how he drops deep to build play, provides a cushion for Arshdeep Singh’s long balls and gets into the right positions very well.

Jerry is leading the assists charts this season (four) and has been a prized asset of the team. He could comfortably have had more to his name, including two more against Hyderabad.

However, the attackers are not doing justice to the chances they are creating for themselves. It’s no exaggeration that the score-line could have read 6-2 in their favour against Hyderabad. Xisco and Nandhakumar missed easy chances and Aridane was victim to an incredible save from Kamaljit Singh.

Odisha must use this win as a building block for the games to come. A team with their attacking prowess will need to ensure they show more efficiency upfront if they are to challenge for the play-off spots.