The lost points seem to be the only constant of Odisha’s season so far …
Neither Odisha nor Hyderabad are expected to be happy with one point of what was an Indian Super League (ISL) game in two halves at Fatorda Stadium on Tuesday.
Halicharan Narzary, who went from being an outcast of the Kerala Blasters to superstar Hyderabad, put the Nizams in the lead in the first half. Narzary, alongside Sunil Chhetri, is India’s top scorer this season with four goals and he has also not been on a penalty.
13 of the 19 goals Odisha has conceded this season came in the first half and the trend for a terrible start has continued.
Hyderabad was all over Odisha in the first half. Their football was fluid, catchy and expressive to a neutral eye and it looked like they were going to get away with the game. Odisha was threatened with every move she made and Arshdeep Singh had to come down and make big saves several times to keep the score 1-0 as they headed for the break.
Akash Mishra continued to impress at left-back with his runs and timely interceptions. Aridane Santana has been exemplary as a target man and it was his impact on a goal kick that fed Narzary for his goal. Odisha’s defense was at six and seven and had no response to Hyderabad’s offensive football mark.
But then the second half began. And it seemed like Manuel Marquez’s team suddenly forgot how to control the game. Diego Mauricio went from ineffectiveness to tormenting the Hyderabad defense with his physique, his skills on the ball and his movements off the ball.
The equalizer came from a throw-in. Diego skillfully handed the ball to Cole Alexander who perfectly hit a powerful effort into the net from the edge of the box to bring Odisha’s level back.
From there it was about Odisha’s fight. It was as if two halves of different football matches were edited together to make a 90 minute compilation. Considering how Hyderabad started the game and how many chances they have to double their lead, Marquez will feel like they have lost two crucial points.
Hyderabad are an extremely talented team and they have been a pleasure to watch at times on the pitch. But it takes a winning mentality to control matches and finish them under pressure. This is something they will have to learn quickly because only nine points (three consecutive wins!) Separate teams from third place to 10th.
Stuart Baxter’s Odisha is in a rut. They have lost eight matches, the most per team this season and are at their lowest with just one win in 12 games. They need a miracle to enter the play-offs.