Before Hero ISL 2022-23 season began, many Hyderabad FC fans last saw their team live when they made the long trip to Goa for last season’s Hero Indian Super League (ISL) final. It turned out to be a trip that is now forever etched in their minds, when Hyderabad FC beat Kerala Blasters FC to lift the trophy.

“All of us had traveled a huge distance to see them. Until the 87th minute, we were trailing and then Tavora scored that goal. We were worried and tense for our team. That has to be the most stressful [game I have experienced],” said Vihari Sunkara, who was part of the traveling group.

Vihari has supported Hyderabad FC since its inception. During the club’s first season in the Hero ISL, their supporters’ club consisted of fans of European clubs, all uniting under one roof for Hyderabad FC. According to Vihari, Hero ISL and Hyderabad FC changed the dynamics of the supporters, and proved to be the perfect connection between local football and fans in the city.

“Hyderabad FC has provided an avenue where all football fans in the city could come [Together] inside together and connect to the local club,” said Vihari.

The Hyderabad FC fans are relieved to be in the stands again, watching the defending champions play live. Over the last two seasons, the fans were limited to watching along on screens.

"During the past two years, we have been watching from our houses and screenings whenever possible. It’s the best feeling when you’re watching your team play from the stands because with all the fellow fans singing and chanting, it is probably the best way to experience a football match," Vihari said.

Vihari and his fellow fans decided to mark their return to the home stadium this season with special preparations. The fans arrive at the stadium three hours before the team’s arrival in order to get the tifos and banners ready, alongside drums to welcome the bus.

One of the big factors connecting the fanbase and the club is consistency, and the fact that Hyderabad FC have entered their third season with head coach Manolo Marquez at the helm of affairs. The Spaniard guided the club to glory in just his second season in charge, and is understandably appreciated by the fans, who Vihari says are impressed with his quality of taking on the responsibility when things don’t go well on the pitch. It is this kind of symbiotic relationship between fans, coaches, players, and clubs that has come to define fandom in the Hero ISL.

The Hyderabad FC fans are now gearing up for the club’s last Hero ISL game of the year on Thursday against NorthEast United FC. The team sits second on the table, the support is evidently high, and so are the expectations of fans after the club’s feat last season - and if traveling long distances and support the team in their endeavor to successfully defend their title, they are ready.