Tough test before Odisha FC in the AFC Cup | Football News

KOLKATA: Indian Super League (ISL) leaders Odisha FC will take on both Jetlag and Australian side Central Coast Mariners in the inter-zonal semi-final of the AFC Cup 2023-24 at the Industree Group Stadium in Gosford City (NSW) on Thursday .

Sergio Lobera's boys, who played away against Chennaiyin FC on Sunday evening, had to fly to Australia on Monday morning and will initially be fighting to shake off fatigue in a different time zone, apart from playing in the continental clash at 1:30 p.m Australian top team IS competing.

“The club has requested a change to the playing time. If we had played the game at 5:00 p.m. we could have taken a flight and it would have been a better situation for us. It's very painful. “We asked to change the game plan because we played today and will be traveling for more than 24 hours tomorrow (March 4th),” Lobera said after the CFC game on Sunday.

“The jet lag when we reach Australia means we can only train once before the game and could be very tired. We not only represent the club in the AFC competition, but also India. “So the situation is difficult to understand,” the Spaniard added.

Meanwhile, Kalinga Warriors showed remarkable fighting spirit in the group stage en route to the semi-finals. Odisha made it to the knockout rounds for the first time after topping South Asia Zonal Group D with 12 points. After initial setbacks, Odisha secured crucial victories, including a massive 5-2 upset over fellow ISL side Mohun Bagan Super Giant and a decisive 1-0 win over Bangladeshi side Bashundhara Kings, to secure a place in the inter-zonal round of the finals reach four.

Hosts Central Coast Mariners, on the other hand, will definitely go into the first leg as favorites. The Mariners are in top form, winning 3-2 after extra time against fellow A-League side Macarthur FC to become ASEAN zone champions.

Before the match, Odisha held its pre-match press conference in Australia led by assistant coach Floyd Pinto as Lobera will be joining the team on the match day.

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“We have thoroughly enjoyed the responsibility of representing India and Asia throughout the season. It's been quite a journey and this season has been a breakthrough for us. Even though we weren't expected to leave the group, we made it to the next round. We are enjoying the process and everything else is going on in the background,” Pinto said Wednesday.

Fijian striker Roy Krishna, who was also present at the encounter alongside Pinto, said: “It will be tough. We must not take them lightly. They have very young, talented players and it's not for nothing that they are in the top two of the table. We respect them. But at the same time we will have our fans. There are a lot of Fijian and Indian communities coming to the game so they will be our 12th man. It will be an exciting game and we are really looking forward to it.”

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