Manolo Marquez, the head coach of Hyderabad FC, was relieved after his team returned to winning ways after beating Chennaiyin FC but said they need to work harded as HFC face East Bengal FC in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) at the GMC Balayogi Stadium, in Hyderabad, on Friday.

The defending Hero ISL champions have registered six wins across nine games with a total tally of 19 points. Marquez revealed he was satisfied with their position on the table and the results. While speaking about Friday’s opponents, he highlighted the opposition’s away form and described it as a difficult challenge.

The Spaniard believes the team is showing the right character, personality, and mentality at the correct moment in the league and has a feeling that his side will play better to get back to the top of the table.

The 54-year-old, who was accompanied by forward Rohit Danu in the official pre-match press conference found it hard to predict the top six due to the competition being stiff and stated that all teams will keep fighting for the playoff position.

Here are the excerpts from Marquez’s press conference:

Hyderabad FC returned to winning ways against Chennaiyin FC in an away game last weekend. How did the result help the team and its preparation during the week for this game?

Marquez: When you win one game, it helps the team get back on track. We needed to win, and we finally got the three important points and the result after two defeats. We have 19 points and we are in a good position. We know that on Friday we will finish the first leg of the league. In terms of results, we can be very satisfied.

How important is it to pick up the team after a strong performance and win over Chennaiyin FC and back it up against East Bengal FC?

Marquez: Every game is the same, and it depends on the wins and losses. After two defeats, everything was negative. Now we won again, and everything seems nice, but we need to start again after winning the previous game.

We have to start the new week in a good position with hard work because this competition is equal and every game is different. On Friday, we play against a team with nine points on the board, but these points are won away by East Bengal FC, who have three wins out of five on the road. It will be a difficult game, and we are ready for the challenge.

Who do you think are the key players for East Bengal FC?

Marquez: They have a very good team and a very good coach. They are a team that plays with dangerous counter attacks and good players on the flanks and in attack. They defend in order, but the problem with East Bengal FC is that they start performing very late in the season. In the last two seasons, they finished in the bottom (half) position, but now they will be fighting for the top six.

Are you happy with the mentality of the team in the last game?

Marquez: I am more than happy, and after two defeats, this is the moment we have to show our character, personality, and mentality. I am satisfied because we won the game, and I have the feeling that the team can play better. We are in second place, and if we win on Friday, we will regain the top spot as Mumbai City FC are resting. The feeling that I have is that we can play better.

We are almost halfway through the season. Are there any surprises for you in terms of the points table?

Marquez: No. I try to follow the competition, and there is one strange thing about this league that one year, Chennaiyin FC were the champions, the next year, they finished second from bottom, FC Goa were champions in the regular season, and the next season, they finished last, and now this year, Jamshedpur FC.

These kinds of things are difficult to understand in football. For example, NorthEast United FC has zero points from eight games, which is very hard. In terms of the league, we knew it would be a very equal competition, and there are going to be a lot of difficult games, and on Friday it is another tough game. One or two teams can be predicted to be in the top six, but there are six to seven other teams fighting for the remaining positions.

Here are the excerpts from Rohit Danu’s press conference:

You have come back after a long injury layoff. What are your thoughts after your first appearance of the season?

Rohit Danu: When I was injured, my thoughts were a bit negative, but we have to be strong mentally, and I knew how my body works, so you have got to believe in yourself, and how you bounce back from the injury is important.

I did not think about anything such, and I was mentally strong, and I felt really good after playing against Chennaiyin FC. I was very confident and did not think about the injury as I tried to give the team as much as I could.

You are up against East Bengal FC on Friday. What kind of game do you expect?

Rohit Danu: East Bengal FC are a very good side, and we have prepared well through every training session. We are focused, the players are positive after the last victory, and we are ready to fight and win three points at home.

How excited are you to play in front of the home fans?

Rohit Danu: Hyderabad FC is already a very home like place for me, and I am very excited to play my first game in front of the home fans on Friday, as in the previous two seasons due to COVID we could not catch up much with our fans.