ISL 2022-23: Odisha FC eager to continue its rise against a clueless NorthEast United
ISL 2022-23: Matchweek 9 is set to be a cracker. Meanwhile, Odisha FC will look to continue its rise as it faces off against a clueless NorthEast United struggling to find its rhythm.
With five wins in seven games, third-placed Odisha FC (OFC) has a chance to leapfrog defending champion Hyderabad FC (HFC) and go level on points with former champion and league-leader Mumbai City FC (MCFC) on Friday. OFC hosts a struggling NorthEast United FC (NEUFC), which has no points from seven games in the 2022-23 Indian Super League (ISL) this season.
OFC has been irrepressible in the last two games emerging as the comeback masters. The Juggernauts left it late against former two-time champion Chennaiyin FC (CFC) as they snatched all three points with a 95th-minute winner. In the game before that, they came down two goals to win 4-2 against East Bengal (EBFC). Now, Josep Gombau’s men aim to win three games on the trot for the first time this season.
The Juggernauts are currently the only ISL team with a perfect home record, having won all three games. OFC star striker Diego Mauricio was benched in the last game but came on in the second half, scored from the spot, and ended his five-game goal drought, boosting the team’s confidence even further.
“We will approach this game as we approach every other game. We have got a lot of respect for the NorthEast. In the last two games, they faced two strong opponents, and in certain moments, especially against ATK [Mohun Bagan], they were drawing until the last moment,” said Gombau.
“That is something we have in mind. Every single game in this league is difficult. Out of respect for them, we will prepare for this game the same way we prepare for other games”, added Gombau. NEUFC finds itself trapped with its worst-ever start to a season. It is yet to get off the mark after losing all seven games and has scored only thrice in that time. It is the lowest tally in the league at the moment, and it has conceded 16 goals, which is the most by any team.
“The staff is good, and they help me a lot. The players are highly motivated in training and are working very hard. I cannot complain about the effort on the pitch because, in every game, they fight till the end. It’s not easy to keep going and stay motivated with these results. But we believe we can change things on the pitch. We will keep going and fight in every game until we change the situation,” Gombau continued.
In the last meeting between these teams earlier this year in the Durand Cup, NEUFC was beaten 6-0 by OFC. In the ISL, the two sides have faced each other six times. The Juggernauts have won thrice, while NorthEast has nabbed two wins, and one game has ended in a draw.