Defending champions Hyderabad FC to begin title defence against Mumbai City FC

Last season’s Hero Indian Super League (ISL) winners Hyderabad FC will start their 2022-23 campaign against Mumbai City FC on Sunday, at the Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex in Pune.

Hyderabad FC defeated Kerala Blasters on penalties in last season’s Hero ISL finals to win their first Hero ISL. Expectations will be sky high as Hyderabad FC attempt to defend their crown, something which has never been achieved in Hero ISL history.

Confident that the team will be competitive again in Hero ISL 2022-23: Hyderabad FC head coach Manolo Marquez

Hyderabad FC have retained their core, re-signed centre-back Odei Onaindia, and shored up their defensive department by adding Reagan Singh and Alex Saji. Manolo Marquez, the Hyderabad FC head coach, revealed that this continuity is one of the strengths of the team.

“I think we are a team with a lot of continuity. I think that is one of the keys to our success in the last two seasons. And of course, we signed some players and they have minutes during the Durand Cup and they took advantage of these minutes,” Marquez said.

Mumbai City FC won five of their first six games last season but couldn’t sustain that form and finished fifth in the league. To go one step further, they have signed last season’s Hero of the League winner, Greg Stewart, from Jamshedpur FC. They have also added Rostyn Griffiths, Alberto Noguera, and Jorge Pereyra Diaz to their squad, and have the most experienced foreign contingent in the ISL, with a combined 253 Hero ISL games between them.

Mumbai City FC had a strong pre-season phase, making it to the Durand Cup finals and ending as runners-up to Bengaluru FC. Des Buckingham, Mumbai City FC’s head coach, said that their seven games in that tournament served as great preparation heading into the new ISL season and was exactly what they had wanted. With their season officially kicking off on Sunday, Buckingham said his team was excited to play in front of fans again.

“I think anybody that watched the season opener last night in Kerala and saw the stands full - whether they’re your fans or the away team’s fans, players want to play in front of fans. You can hear the excitement when there’s attacking moves, goals, and saves. And that translates for me in the tempo of the game.

Playing as defending champions is not easy: Mumbai City FC’s Des Buckingham ahead of Hyderabad FC clash

"In terms of our fans we’ve got a very dedicated set of fans," Buckingham said. "We even had two of them travel to the Champions League in Saudi Arabia to support us. We’re a little bit closer to home now. Obviously not at home, but closer to home. And to see as many as we will tomorrow is something we’re looking forward to."

Hyderabad FC and Mumbai City FC have locked horns six times with both teams winning twice and drawing twice. Hyderabad FC won the last two encounters between the two sides in Hero ISL 2021-2022.

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