Hyderabad FC head coach Manolo Marquez stated his team has the capacity to come out victorious in difficult games as his side take on ATK Mohun Bagan in matchweek 8 of the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan in Kolkata on Saturday.

Following their first defeat of the Hero ISL 2022-23 season to Kerala Blasters FC, Marquez said that it is impossible to win every game in such a competitive and difficult league. However, referring to their performances of the previous season, he backed his team to come out stronger and get back to winning ways.

The Spaniard also spoke about his side’s fan support and believes that they need to continue winning to improve the city’s footballing culture as he attended the official pre-match press conference alongside defender Odei Onanindia ahead of the ATK Mohun Bagan match.

Here are the excerpts from Marquez’s press conference:

What do you think went wrong for Hyderabad FC in the last game against Kerala Blasters FC? How have you been working in the training sessions to make sure you grow from that?

Marquez: We lost the game (against Kerala Blasters FC and it) is the reality, and I think we didn’t play that well. In the first half, we were playing against a team who had a nice organisation, with all the players waiting for us to make a mistake. Finally, they found the distraction, and they scored the goal. It’s true that in the second half, we played better with more combinations, (we were) more competitive than the other team, with two-three clear chances, but finally, it is impossible in one championship to not lose games. In this championship, more so, in such a difficult championship. Although we lost one game, we are still on top of the table.

The next game is against ATK Mohun Bagan and you’ve mentioned in the past that they are one of the strongest sides in the league. What kind of a game do you expect against them?

Marquez: Very difficult game and I think everyone is aware of the quality of their foreign players. They have 5-7 domestic players in the national team. It will be difficult but I think it will be the same for them. I repeat this narrative in each press conference that this is a league where you can beat every opponent and every opponent can beat you. I think it can be a good game with two good teams, let’s see what happens.

How eager has the team been after the last game to get back on the field and put on a good show?

Marquez: I don’t like to speak too much about the statistics but we know that last season, we only lost four games and after every game, we reacted well and won. One day, we won against Kerala and the next day there was a draw against Chennaiyin FC but then we went on and won, I don’t know how many, consecutive games. Another thing that I have in my mind is that you’ll see the good teams, after a defeat, it’s impossible to win every game. It’s difficult to be regular during all the season, but we know we have a difficult game and we know we can win these games.       

Fans are back in the stadium. How much of a difference does it make for the team playing away from home? How much does it affect the team and how has your experience been in the last two away games?

Marquez: The first thing is that it is 1000 times better to be playing with the crowd than to play in empty stadiums. It is true that, on our pitch, we know that our supporters are there for us, the other day was okay, was nice. With Kerala Blasters fans, they were very happy, and in Jamshedpur, the stadium was not full but it was (filled) with a lot of people. I think it is even better when you have one player playing professional football (saying) I prefer to play with my fans or my supporters, but even then it’s a good motivation when you play away.

The support of the home fans even after the defeat was special, they kept pushing the team with their fighting spirit right till the end. Does it give extra motivation to the players who will be travelling away for the upcoming game?

Marquez: We are very happy to know that. As I’ve said before, Hyderabad is still not a city of football, there are more sports (other than football), but we have very good fans. Even when we were in the bubble, we received a lot of messages from them through social media, and to know that they are behind us felt nice. The other day, at the end of the game when we lost, they were applauding the team.

Let’s see if we lose any more games, let’s see if they keep applauding us. Again, as I said before, if we want football to grow in Hyderabad, we need to keep winning because, finally, it is the only situation through which you can improve the footballing (culture) in the city.

Here are the excerpts from Onaindia’s press conference:

When you first came to Hyderabad FC, you played alongside Asish Rai, Nikhil Poojary, Akash Mishra, and Chinglensana Singh. That time they were starting off and had lesser experience compared to today. So, what kind of a difference have you seen in them?

Onaindia: I think every player with each passing season, they are learning, and we are also learning from them. Playing together with these players in my team is very comfortable and I’m learning in every training session. Also, I think they will learn from me and I think that is a very good way to keep it going in this season, which will be very good for us.

This is your second season in India. How has your experience been playing in India outside of the bio-bubble?

Onaindia: Now, football is better with all the fans and supporters. Travelling around India is a very good experience, and I’m very happy to be here, playing for Hyderabad FC. We are on top of the table, we know that we have a pretty strong team and we want to continue like that.

What kind of a game are you expecting against ATK Mohun Bagan?

Onaindia: Yes, ATK Mohun Bagan are a strong team, we know that we have to be focused for 90-95 minutes and if we keep the ball in our style, we’ll have chances to win the game. So, I am focusing on our game and not ATK Mohun Bagan’s game.