Hyderabad FC season review: Manolo Marquez's team maintain upward trajectory
The Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2022-23 season must be viewed in a positive light for Hyderabad FC. The Manolo Marquez-coached side started their campaign in a dominant fashion – just as they finished it last season.
Marquez and his side continued to show their remarkable character and excellence in the Hero ISL. Still, they failed to get their hands on the coveted Hero ISL League Winners’ Shield for a second year running, this time against a valiant Mumbai City FC who savored their dream season.
It would always be an uphill task to defend the Hero ISL trophy, yet they certainly gave it their best shot and if not for fitness issues, they could have made it harder for the opposing team. Their heartbreak doubled as they went down 3-4 on penalties after two goalless semi-final draws against ATK Mohun Bagan and quashed their dream of retaining the Hero ISL trophy.
Their season may have ended in disappointment, but it hardly felt like a failure at all.
Pl: 22; W: 13; D: 5; L: 4; Pts: 42; GF: 36; GA: 16
Hyderabad FC remained a powerful force for most of the season. They started their campaign with a breathtaking 3-3 draw with Mumbai City FC, before going on a five-game winning streak.
At a certain point, Marquez’s men looked impenetrable as they enjoyed an eight-game undefeated run before shockingly losing out 3-1 to Odisha FC.
Their impressive run of form kept them on top of the table for 55 days but eventually succumbed to Mumbai City FC who clinched their second League Winners Shield.
Hyderabad FC ended their league phase with the most wins (13) and attained their highest-ever points tally in a single Hero ISL season (42). Wins aside, their defensive solidarity looked incredibly well-drilled, even better than last season.
Marquez has succeeded in making Hyderabad FC more resilient defensively this season. The re-introduction of Odei Onaindia has added some much-needed organisation and solidity to the Hyderabad FC defence. They had a remarkable defensive record in the Hero ISL this season, shipping just 16 goals (conceded seven goals fewer than last season) in 22 games this season. They recorded ten clean sheets for the first time in a single season which is the joint-most clean sheets by a team in the league stage of a single season in the history of Hero ISL.
The attacking flair shown by Hyderabad FC in the crunch moment of the season was not sufficient going by their standard. Especially, in the semi-final clash against ATK Mohun Bagan their attackers were inactive and they really struggled to break the Mariners' defence. The absence of an Indian goalscorer was clearly visible and this is the area they really need to work on next season.
Onaindia was the standard bearer for this Hyderabad FC side under Marquez. His return accelerated the exponential growth of the club.
The Spaniard exemplifies every attribute of the squad and, more than that, reflects it back onto every single other squad member. The team clearly benefited from his organisational skills. The centre-back was exceptional in leading the HFC defence. He was the focal point in multiple defensive situations and cleared every threat in sight.
The 33-year-old made 38 tackles, 23 interceptions, 94 clearances, and 31 blocks in 21 appearances. Onaindia was colossal at the back and played his role to perfection.
Best Young Player
Akash Mishra had a lot of expectations on his shoulders after his compatriot Asish Rai left the club and the left-back paid it off handsomely. Mishra showed an extreme level of consistency and adeptness in his duties within a multifaceted role. Defensively he is solid and assured, and on the offensive front, he is as productive as well. He registered 35 interceptions and 53 clearances in 19 games.
The 21-year-old added an extra dimension to Hyderabad FC’s attacking play. He often set the tempo with his surging runs down the left flank and delivered pinpoint crosses. His tenacity could be a crucial element for not just his own success but also for his team.
What do they need next season?
Hyderabad FC needs to regroup, recuperate and come back stronger with the aim to reach the summit again.
They need to hang on to their core group and the likes of Chinglensana Konsham, Mishra, Mohammad Yasir, Nikhil Poojary, Onaindia, and Hitesh Sharma must be retained by any means.
A major factor to focus on is the lack of an Indian goalscorer. Halicharan Narzary and Mohammad Yasir with only three goals each were the leading Indian goalscorer for HFC.
A few big calls need to be made this summer – the futures of Bartholomew Ogbeche, Joel Chianese, and Manolo Marquez chief among them.
If they do their off-season business well, we can expect to see them lifting the big prize once more next season.