Albert Roca eager to inculcate the right mentality at Hyderabad

For Hyderabad FC fans, the appointment of Spaniard Albert Roca as their new head coach is cause for optimism after an underwhelming Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2019-20 season. One of the most experienced head coaches to have graced Indian Football, Roca reached the Hero ISL final with his previous club Bengaluru FC in Hero ISL 2017-18. He recently spoke to in an exclusive interview and expressed his delight following his return to the Hero ISL.

“I am very happy to return to India where I have enjoyed my job in the past. I thank Hyderabad FC for the opportunity they’ve given me to show my work. It's always exciting to come to a league that is improving more and more, every year,” Roca said on his return to the Hero ISL.

When Bengaluru entered the Hero ISL, they were already a well-drilled unit and had one of the strongest squads in the league. However, Hyderabad FC presents a different challenge for Roca and he believes that changing the mood in the dressing room will be one of his biggest tasks at the club.

“The biggest challenge is to change the mood. It wasn’t easy last year for the club. Everybody was a little disappointed with the results. The team has to compete, and it is not easy. It was the first year of the club and there had been a lot of changes. So, for everybody involved it has not been an easy year. The first task for everyone is to get adjusted to the new way and try to compete better while having the right mentality,” he said.

With Hyderabad, the Spanish head coach is looking forward to working with youngsters like Liston Colaco, Mohammed Yasir and Asish Rai. “I love working with young players because they are the future of Indian football. So, anyone who is willing to work really hard and ready to show their talent will always be on my mind when it comes to the progress of the team. But it depends on them as well to work on their skills and improve themselves. Taking this step is not an easy thing, but it is possible with me. I want to give them opportunities to express themselves as much as possible,” Roca said.

He also urged his players to act professionally and hopes that they can grab the opportunities provided to them. “You have to remind them that this is professional football and we have to give our best at all times. It means working very hard right from the beginning and having the right mentality to learn and absorb as much as possible. With football, any simple aspect is as important and crucial as the tactics that we talk about, and we have to put it forth in a professional way. It’s about providing them with the tools, but it also comes down to the players to grab their opportunities and improve,” the 57-year-old said.

During his time with Bengaluru, Roca led the Blues to the Hero Super Cup. He was also at the helm during Bengaluru’s run to the final of the AFC Cup, where they narrowly lost to Iraq's Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya. However, while he praised the current Bengaluru team, the Hyderabad head coach downplayed the importance of facing his former club.

“I had a very nice feeling about the supporters, the city, and everyone associated with the club at BFC. It was a nice experience, but we are professionals. This is a new challenge for me and I will give my very best for Hyderabad,” the Spaniard said. “Bengaluru is now doing well with a coach (Carles Cuadrat) who was my assistant for a few years. They won the league and are doing a good job overall. While I am happy about that, it’s no longer my objective since I am now focusing completely on Hyderabad. For me, it’s an exciting challenge and a very good opportunity to enjoy it in a different way.”

Looking ahead to life in the Hero ISL with Hyderabad, Roca hopes to orchestrate his team’s turnaround next season and understands the challenge ahead of him, he said, “We know the challenge that lies ahead for us and it’s a question of working hard and trying to impart our philosophy to the players and try to grow together as a team so that the players can give their best week-in, week-out.”

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