Bartholomew Ogbeche’s absence will make ‘zero’ difference to Hyderabad FC against Chennaiyin FC: Manuel Marquez

Hyderabad FC head coach Manuel Marquez expects another tough game for his side when they take on Chennaiyin FC at the PJN stadium in Margao, Goa in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) on Thursday.

Hyderabad FC come into the match on the back of a loss against Kerala Blasters FC and will be looking to bounce back against Chennaiyin FC, a team that got the better of Marquez’s men in the first meeting this season.

However, the Spaniard believes neither games, defeat against Blasters in the last match and loss to Chennaiyin FC in the earlier game, will have too much bearing on the upcoming clash as it will be a fresh contest.

Hyderabad FC will be without top scorer Bartholomew Ogbeche for the contest as he serves his one-match suspension but Marquez believes his team can cope without their star forward.

Marquez also expressed confidence in his team that have only lost two matches in the first half of the season to continue their good form and secure a place in the semi-finals for the first time in their history.

He addressed questions from the media ahead of the match against Chennaiyin FC.

Here are excerpts from his pre-match press conference:

Do you think the missed chances cost the team against Kerala Blasters FC. Also do you see the defeat as a momentum breaker or was it just an off day?

I don't know any team in my life that doesn't lose one game. In football, you either win, draw or lose. There are some moments in the league when you can be a lot of games unbeaten like our team. And then there is a moment in a season when you are not okay and maybe you don't get to win some games. But I think that day against Kerala Blasters FC was not one of our worst games. We missed some clear chances and they have some very good offensive players and a strong defensive side too. In my opinion, I don't think (it will break momentum) and we will continue in a good way. Let's see. We face a tough opponent again.

The defeat against Kerala Blasters FC was just the second of the season for Hyderabad FC. How do you avoid any further lapses and where does the team need to improve?

I don't know but if you play one leg and you have 16 points with four wins, four draws and two defeats and you repeat in the second leg the same numbers then the team could be in the semi-finals. Then we have to recover the team physically and mentally and let's see what happens. In this league every day, every interview with the coach is the same. We can see that every team can beat the other. Even SC East Bengal with eleven Indian players made it difficult. Jamshepdur FC only scored in the 88th minute. All the teams are very tough with a lot of good players and every game is very tough.

As an opponent, how do you think Chennaiyin FC's campaign has been so far?

They have a new coach and a lot of new players. In the beginning, especially in our game they didn't deserve to win. But results give you confidence. They started the season very well after that they lost some games. After that, it's been up and down but there are seven teams separated by three points. If we win, we will be top of the table but if we lose, Chennaiyin FC will go above us.

They are a strong team with a very good coach and are well organised. Of course, it will be another difficult game because they don't create many chances but concede very few. They have conceded just 12 goals and seven of those are in two games. It means that they have conceded just five goals in eight games. They are a team that prepares to play in a counter-attacking style rather than manage the possession. They have another style but are a very good team.

Hyderabad FC lost the first match against Chennaiyin FC. You must have learnt a lot from that game. Do you think the team is better prepared to face them this time?

Yes, we train to improve the team. I think it was an accident to lose that game. I don't remember clear chances for Chennaiyin FC. It's true that in that game they played with ten players behind the ball and they took advantage of one mistake from our team and Anirudh Thapa was very clever and won a clear penalty. But it is not about learning from that game but about how we want to play. In football, if you don't score your chances, it can happen again. Sometimes, you can also play a bad game and still win 1-0. You don't know what will happen. In this competition, anything can happen.

Bartholomew Ogbeche is suspended for this game. How much will his absence affect the team?

Zero.

The Hero ISL table is very close this season. A win or loss can change the equation completely. So how do you make sure that the players give their best in each and every game from now on?

We are playing a very difficult competition. All 11 teams are in a bubble for a long time. We don't know what will happen. We don't know if more games will be cancelled or when we will play. I think the teams that are mentally stronger have better chances than other teams.

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