MUMBAI: Debutants in the sixth season of the Indian Super League – Odisha FC – will not play their first three home games at the Kalinga Stadium, Bhubaneswar. The franchise will play the matches against ATK, Bengaluru FC and Hyderabad FC on 24 November, 4 December and 11 December respectively at the Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex, Pune on the above mentioned dates.
Kalinga Stadium, which is owned by the Odisha Sports and Youth Services Department, is not fully prepared as the upgradation work got delayed due to persistent showers in the state capital and a longer monsoon.
As the venue is going to host the 2020 FIFA under 17 women’s World Cup, the state government is now trying to ensure that the turf is in proper condition as per the FIFA guidelines and the stadium is expected to be ready before December 16.
All other six games will be go ahead as per schedule and informing about the same, Odisha FC owner Rohan Sharma said, “We tried hard to ensure that we play the home games in Bhubaneswar. However, owing to persistent showers here the upgradation work got delayed and unfortunately, things are beyond our control so we have to consider an alternative venue for the first three home games. We look forward to having Kalinga Stadium full when we have our eventual first home game.”
Adding further on the stadium and the ground condition, Mr. R Vineel Krishna, IAS, Director – cum – Additional Secretary, Sports & YS Dept., Govt. of Odisha, said, “The Sports Department is working hard along with its vendors on getting the Kalinga Stadium football pitch ready as per the FIFA guidelines ahead of FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup India 2020. There was tremendous delay in the withdrawal of monsoons this year, making it it the most delayed withdrawal of the monsoon in its recorded history. Due to this, there were extreme weather conditions that led to a slight delay from the original schedule, in making the ground available for the initial Odisha FC home games. We are expecting that the ground will be available for the home games of Odisha FC in mid December 2019.”