A date with history for Odisha FC in the AFC Cup
10 Dec 2023

Akhil Rawat
AIFF Media Team

BHUBANESWAR: Odisha FC will be targeting a place in the knockout stage of the AFC Cup in their maiden continental appearance as they take on Bashundhara Kings of Bangladesh in their sixth and final Group D match at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar on Monday, December 11, 2023 at 19:30 IST. The match will be streamed live on FanCode.

It's been a remarkable turnaround for the Kalinga Warriors who suffered two back-to-back losses to begin their campaign, but have won three in a row, including a sensational 5-2 triumph over Mohun Bagan Super Giant in Kolkata two weeks ago, to find themselves in the reckoning for a spot in the Inter-zone play-off semi-final.

Bashundhara Kings are on a similar upward curve as well. The Bangladeshi champions went down to Maziya S&RC in their opening fixture but have been unbeaten since then, winning three and drawing one. Impressively, they have come from behind in each of those four matches to bag a combined 10 points.

In the pre-match press conference, Odisha FC head coach Sergio Lobera said, "The feeling is very good. It's a big game we're going to play tomorrow. It is a very good opportunity for us to show everyone that Odisha is at another level. We're going to compete for our club, but also represent India.

"We're not feeling the pressure about the game. We need to enjoy tomorrow with our people in the stadium. Kalinga is the place where dreams come true," the Spaniard added.

"We are improving day by day and with every match we play. The players understand the coach better and we are ready to face the opposition tomorrow," said Odisha FC captain Amrinder Singh.

Bashundhara Kings head coach Oscar Bruzon, who has sizeable experience of coaching in India with the likes of Sporting Clube de Goa and Mumbai FC, said, "Both the teams suffered early setbacks in the competition - Odisha lost to Mohun Bagan and us, and we lost to Maziya. But we both have recovered well and tomorrow have the opportunity to progress into the next round.

"We have full respect for Odisha. They are a good team, with an excellent wing game. It's going to be a good match. We are fully motivated to play for the win and do good for not just us, but the entire Bangladesh football community," Bruzon added.

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