Bhubaneswar: It seems that football lovers in Odisha will still have to wait for their #AmaTeamAmaGame (our team, our game) moment at home soil.
The reason: Odisha FC (formerly Delhi Dynamos FC) — the most expensive franchise in Indian Super league (ISL) — is forced to look out for outside venues to play its home matches. This is because the designated home ground at Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar is not yet ready to host the matches.
As per schedule, Odisha FC is to face ATK (November 24), Bengaluru FC (December 4) and Hyderabad (December 11) at Kalinga Stadium here. However, the ground is under construction and it will not be finished before the second week of December.
Officials said the work was hampered due to the torrential rains in the last week of October. The sand filling was washed away and had to be redone again. The filling work is expected to be completed in three days, but putting a green top will need at least three weeks. This almost eliminates any chance of Odisha FC playing any home match here till December last week.
“We are likely to shift two or three home matches as the ground is yet to be prepared. Everything was on right track but due to prolonged monsoon, the groundwork has been delayed. Discussion is on for an alternative venue but we are yet to finalise. We will make the announcement soon,” a report in New Indian Express quoted Odisha FC CEO Ashish Shah as saying.
Sources said the team is eyeing either Pune or Ahmedabad for playing the home matches.
Odisha FC has made a slow start in its maiden ISL campaign, suffering two back-to-back defeats against Jamshedpur FC and North East United. It, however, made a comeback by winning against Mumbai City in the third match. In the last away match of the first phase, it will face Kerala Blasters on November 8.
The Kalinga Stadium ground is up for renovation to host the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup 2020 to be held from November 2-21 next year. The authorities are racing against time to prepare the ground as members of the FIFA Technical Committee will visit it in the first week of December to assess the progress of work.