Bhubaneswar, Jan 18: Odisha is all set to host historic Kolkata Derby between two football powerhouses, Mohun Bagan Supergiant and East Bengal FC on Friday.
Both teams will battle it out for the semi-final spot in their last Group A match of the ongoing Kalinga Super Cup 2024 at the iconic Kalinga Stadium.
"For me Odisha is like home, I have spent a lot of time here recently. The people are very warm here and I must laud the government of Odisha for their approach towards developing football. Football is moving in the right direction in Odisha, not only have they built excellent infrastructure where the quality of the pitches is the best in the country, but they are also using the infrastructure to host national and international tournaments,” said, Mohun Bagan’s Assistant Coach, Clifford Miranda.
Odisha's journey in football has seen it successfully host various marquee tournaments, including the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup, Intercontinental Cup 2023, and the India vs. Qatar FIFA World Cup 2026 AFC qualifiers match.
The launch of the AIFF-FIFA Talent Academy in the presence of the legendary Arsene Wenger is also a testament to Odisha's efforts in nurturing and developing football at the grassroots level.
Having built a robust football infrastructure, Odisha is able to host as many as 16 football teams simultaneously for the Kalinga Super Cup 2024. Coaches from both Mohun Bagan Supergiant and East Bengal heaped praise on Odisha's sports infrastructure.
East Bengal Head Coach Carles Cuadrat stated, “I am familiar with Odisha as I have been in India for a long time. The football infrastructure here is exceptional. The pitches are great for training and as always, the accommodation is also great. I must congratulate the government of Odisha for their efforts in football.”
The clash between the oldest football rivals being hosted outside Kolkata is a rare occurrence. On playing the derby at a neutral venue, Carles Cuadrat further added, “I think it is great for Indian football that the derby is happening in Bhubaneswar. We are looking forward to it and are confident that we will have good support from the crowd as well.” (IANS)