FC Goa have one of the best squads in the ISL: Hyderabad FC’s Manuel Marquez

Hyderabad FC head coach Manuel Marquez has his eyes completely set on the next match and wants his players to be fully focused on Saturday when they take on FC Goa in Match 95 of the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) at the Athletic Stadium in Goa.

Marquez addressed his FC Goa counterpart Derrick Pereira’s problems and stated that their season was marred by an accumulation of several problems which hampered their ambitions for the 21-22 campaign. 

The 53-year-old addressed the media during the official pre-match press conference ahead of the game against FC Goa.

Here are the excerpts of the coach’s press conference:

While FC Goa are finding it difficult in the race for the top four finish, do you think this is a good time for Hyderabad FC to play against them and consolidate their top position?

I think that every game is very difficult and against FC Goa, it will be the same. After yesterday’s match where Jamshedpur won against Mumbai City FC, mathematically FC Goa can still arrive [in the top four] because they will have Mumbai and then Kerala to play against.

It’s impossible even if they get the nine points, they can’t arrive in the top four, but of course they will want to finish, if it’s possible, seventh or sixth, or in the best position possible. It will be a difficult game just how all the other games have been.

Given FC Goa’s recent performances, what threats do you expect from them on Saturday night?

FC Goa faced a problem when their former coach [Juan Ferrando] left the team abruptly and they’ve faced several difficult problems since then. I agree with Bedia [Edu] when he said some days back that FC Goa is one of the strongest teams in the league.

They faced several problems together that they couldn’t surpass and this is the reason that they are in this situation. But if you look at the squad of FC Goa, they have one of the best squads in the ISL, without a doubt.

What are the concerns that you see in your squad before heading into the crucial final stages of the league?

It’s very difficult to say that we need four, five, six, or seven points because we need to be focusing on the Goa game because every day, there are a lot of games, even head-to-head. There are five-six teams, and Bengaluru are still in the fight. There are six teams and four places, there are teams with more games, another team with less games.

As I said earlier, it’s not always about the table. We are still on the top, after I don’t know how many days, but of course, if you don’t play your game in every match, the opponents will get closer. So, the only thing we can say to the players is to take each game step-by-step, focus on FC Goa, and when we finish the game, even if we win, draw, or lose the game, our focus will be on the next game.

As the team gets closer to making it to the semi-finals, how important is tomorrow’s match against Goa with the likes of Jamshedpur FC, Kerala Blasters FC, and ATK Mohun Bagan right there in the top four?

Now, it’s four games. Every game is important for all the teams. Even for us, more than Goa obviously, it’s very important. But if we win tomorrow, we are still not qualified, and if we lose tomorrow, we are not out of the fight for top four. And of course, we are thinking with the mindset that we have to win this game and let’s see, we are preparing to get those three points.

How does Hyderabad FC’s new signing Khassa Camara fit into your plans? What contribution do you expect him to bring in, in the following games?

When Edu Garcia left the team, we had this possibility, Hyderabad offered me this option, and in another situation I think that we would finish only with five foreigners and at this moment we have Juanan and Joao [Victor] with three yellow cards. We had the possibility to sign Khassa Camara, a player who knows ISL perfectly.

I think it's only four games and we hope for the semi-finals too but at least four games he can contribute to the team. Let’s see if he will play tomorrow, if he will be on the bench, in the starting lineup, or out of the squad because he had to be in quarantine. But of course, we know him, he’s a very good player in the ISL and for us too.

FC Goa head coach Derrick Pereira has admitted that his side has been weakened considerably by the COVID-19 outbreak. Will you go all out in this match given that your last three games are against potential semi-finalists?

Yes, but I repeat, there are a lot of circumstances that don’t allow them to be in the fight for the top four. For me, sometimes when you play against teams that are only fighting to improve the position and not for the top four, they can play with more calmness given their quality. In the case of FC Goa, they have a quality side.

So, every game is different and now I think we have to be focused all 90, 95, or 100 minutes. I don’t know how many minutes the game will go on, but the focus is to beat FC Goa.

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