ISL 2023-24 Preview: Lobera's Odisha FC to battle former club Mumbai City FC in highly-anticipated showdown
Odisha FC head coach Sergio Lobera awaits the arrival of his former club Mumbai City FC at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar on September 28, 2023 for their ISL 2023-24 encounter.
Odisha FC's head coach, Sergio Lobera, is eagerly anticipating the arrival of his former club, Mumbai City FC, at Bhubaneswar's Kalinga Stadium on September 28, 2023 for their Indian Super League (ISL) 2023-24 clash. This encounter marks Lobera's first showdown with Mumbai since joining Odisha for this campaign, following his successful tenure with the Islanders.
What's at stake for both teams?
For Odisha FC, they've made a strong start to the season by being the only team to keep a clean sheet in the opening matchweek. After recovering from a heavy defeat in the AFC Cup, they triumphed over Chennaiyin FC with a 2-0 win. This match is also a clash between two coaches with impressive win rates in ISL history, with Des Buckingham of Mumbai leading with 58.13 per cent in 43 matches and Lobera following closely with 53.75 per cent in 80 games.
Mumbai City FC's early victories
Mumbai City FC aims to secure early victories in away fixtures to set the stage for a successful campaign when they return to their home ground, the Mumbai Football Arena. They've already secured a win against NorthEast United in Guwahati in their opening fixture, and a victory against a promising Odisha setup would boost the morale of the defending ISL League Winners Shield holders.
Key players to watch
Jerry Mawihmingthana (Odisha FC): The 26-year-old demonstrated impeccable footwork and sharpshooting to bag Odisha’s opener against Chennaiyin FC last week. His goal-scoring instincts and footwork inside the box have arguably improved and his face off against Mumbai’s seasoned will be an exciting matchup on Friday.
Lalengmawia Ralte (Mumbai City FC): Lobera beats his opponents by outclassing them at the centre of the park. Lalengmawia Ralte capped off a fine performance against the Highlanders – pulling off 46 passes at a 95% success rate. Buckingham will rely on him to set the tempo of the game from heart of the midfield against Odisha.
The head-to-head record between the two teams stands at 18 matches, with Mumbai City FC winning 10, Odisha FC winning 5, and 3 matches ending in draws. Notably, Mumbai City FC had an impressive record against Odisha FC last season, scoring six goals while conceding only twice in their victories.
Additional insights include Mumbai City's success under Lobera's leadership when they achieved the historic ISL double, winning both the League Shield and the Cup.
Both coaches shared their thoughts on the upcoming match. Lobera expressed excitement about facing Mumbai City FC, a club with which he had a memorable stint. Buckingham emphasized the importance of continuing their good work and preparing for a challenging match against Odisha.
“Obviously, we have started the season well against Chennai - very good team. We need to put our focus in the next game against a very good, strong team. We are excited about this. This is the second game at home in front of our supporters. It’s a special game for me because I was there, I was working at Mumbai City - it was an amazing experience for me, one of the best experience of my career working with the City Football Group and winning everything. Obviously I have very good memories of this club. Tomorrow, it’s a special game for me because I want to win with Odisha. We are working very hard to prepare in the best way possible for this game and we are excited about this big challenge,” Lobera reflected on locking horns with the Islanders.
“We have just come on the back off the first game of the ISL against a very good NorthEast team. It’s about continuing on the good work that we have done from the start of the pre-season building up from last year. It’s a game that we are looking forward to against a very good and tough Odisha team. We have done as much as we can to be prepared for it,” Mumbai’s Buckingham outlined his team’s preparation ahead of the match.
Where to watch
Viacom18 is the new home of Indian football and the match between Mumbai City FC and Odisha FC will kick off at prime time of 8 PM on September 28, 2023. Fans across the country can catch the action in English, Hindi, Bengali, and Malayalam. Fans can watch the action on the linear channels like, Sports18 Khel (Hindi), Sports18 1 SD & HD (English), VH1 SD & HD (English), Surya Movies (Malayalam), DD Bangla & Colors Bangla Cinema (Bengali).
In addition to this, as part of FSDL’s partnership with OneFootball, ISL live streams and highlights to all matches of the upcoming 2023-24 season will be delivered across more than 190 countries.