A changed in tactics from Stuart Baxter inspired Odisha FC’s maiden win in the ongoing ISL season…
It took them nine matches but they finally did it and they did it in style. Ahead of the game, Stuart Baxter lost star forward Manuel Onwu who had picked up an injury during the warm-up and was ruled out. For a team who were struggling to score goals and get a win, Onwu’s absence was certainly a big blow.
The experienced coach tweaked the formation a bit from the last few matches and fielded the team in a 4-4-2 formation. Daniel Lalhimpuia was the last-minute replaces of Onwu and was deployed alongside Diego Mauricio. The Brazilian forward, who generally plays the number 9 role, was used as a second striker against Kerala.
Also underperforming full-back Shubham Sarangi was dropped from the starting eleven. Australian centre back Jacob Tratt was moved to the right side of the defence while Gaurav Bora was brought to the central defence partnering skipper Taylor.
The two changes did wonders for Baxter and the change in tactics proved to be a game changer against Kerala. Mauricio remained extremely mobile in the attacking third and constantly pestered the Kerala defenders. He scored twice in the match and was behind Jeakson’s own goal in the first half which restored parity in the match.
Tratt too had an impressive outing in his new role and constantly kept the right flank active with his runs. The Australian got excellent support from Jerry Mawihmingthanga who seemed to be at his very best after a very long time.
On Sunday evening, they will be up against Chennaiyin FC – who have been wasteful in front of goal. In their last game, the Marina Machans conceded four and certainly, they would look to make amends against Odisha FC – a team with the second-worst defensive record in the league (16).
Baxter will hope that his side follow-up their performance against Kerala with another strong showing on Sunday in order to prove that the win over Kerala Blasters was not a ‘flash in the pan’.
Meanwhile, Chennaiyin will sweat over the fitness of Rafael Crivellaro, who provides the creative impetus to Csaba Laszlo’s side. The good news for Chennaiyin FC is that Esma Goncalves is back in contention for a start and has got some minutes under his belt in the last game.
It will be interesting to see if Laszlo decides to field Jakub Sylvestr and Goncalves together in the line-up, something which he has done only twice in the campaign.
It should make for an interesting tussle on Sunday.