Odisha FC will settle for nothing less than a victory to stay in the hunt when they take on NorthEast United FC in a Indian Super League match at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneshwar on Friday.
Odisha are currently sixth on the table and five points behind fourth-placed Mumbai City FC. If they fail to beat NorthEast United, they will be mathematically out of contention.
Josep Gombau and his team will have to bring out their heavy artillery and go all out to ensure they remain in contention. Odisha are in a bit of a rut at the moment, having lost three games in a row with the most recent being a 1-3 defeat to ATK.
They desperately need to turn things around and the game against NorthEast might be the perfect opportunity.
“These are two important games. We have approached this season game by game. If mathematics says it is possible we are going to fight for it. We have been training very well. It is a must-win game. If we win tomorrow, we will approach the next game with the same attitude. We have prepared for the match as a final,” said Gombau.
Odisha will need the likes of Xisco Hernandez and Manuel Onwu to fire upfront.
Onwu has been among goals ever since he moved to Odisha and will look to continue his form against NorthEast as well.
However, they need to sort out their mistakes in defence which has seen them concede 10 goals in the last three matches.
The likes of Gaurav Bora and Carlos Delgado need to step up while Marcos Tebar will need to hold the anchor in the midfield.
NorthEast, on the other hand, are winless in 11 matches and to make matters worse, they parted ways with head coach Robert Jarni. They are coming off a 3-3 draw against Jamshedpur FC.
However, one positive thing to take from the game after interim coach Khalid Jamil took over is that they finally scored after a four-game drought.
“We have to give our best with everything that we have. We will continue in the way, Mr Jarni was following. There will be minor changes, that’s it,” said Jamil.
Jamil does have a few injury issues with Nikhil Kadam and Mislav Komorski being ruled out, while midfielder Lalengmawia is out because of personal reasons.
Though Irish marksman Andy Keogh is yet to find the back of the net, the likes of Federico Gallego and Redeem Tlang impressed against Jamshedpur and Jamil will hope they can continue that form as they bid to finish the season on a positive note.