ISL 2021-22: Odisha looks to build on promising start to season

Odisha FC will aim to build on its promising start to the Indian Super League (ISL) season when it takes on Jamshedpur FC at the Tilak Maidan in Vasco on Tuesday.

Odisha hasnโ€™t been at its convincing best, despite three wins in four matches, that have taken it to second in the table. Fourth-placed Jamshedpur, which was punished in the last outing for its mistakes by a ruthless Mumbai City FC, will be keen to bounce back to establish itself as a serious playoff contender.

While Odisha has scored 11 goals so far, it has let in seven in return, including four against a hapless SC East Bengal. NorthEast United, too, had its chances against Odisha but squandered them before the Juggernauts nicked it late in a 1-0 win.

Having conceded 50 shots in four matches โ€“ highest average in the league โ€“ head coach Kiko Ramirez will need to work out a way to limit chances against his team. Higher up the pitch, attacking midfielder Javi Hernandez will hold key to unlocking Jamshedpurโ€™s defence.

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Odisha forward Aridai Cabrera was forced off the field with an injury but Ramirez expects to have the Spaniard remain in contention.

Ramirez paid tribute to opposite number Owen Coyleโ€™s work with Jamshedpur since his appointment in 2020. โ€œThey are probably one of the best [teams] this season and they have a clear idea of what they are doing on the pitch,โ€ said the Spanish coach.

Jamshedpur head coach Coyle has fitness concerns heading into the clash with the attacking trio of Nerijus Valskis, Jordan Murray and Seiminlen Doungel, and centre-back Peter Hartley all nursing knocks. Despite the troubles, the team will likely continue to play with a high-intensity approach.

โ€œJamshedpur only knows how to play in one way and that’s to win matches. Weโ€™re very respectful of who we play against and we recognise qualities of the opposition, but we don’t change our game plan according to the team weโ€™re facing, with all due respect,โ€ย said Coyle.

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