Joao Victor: Hyderabad FC are here to fight, to come out on top

Hyderabad FC’s Brazilian midfielder Joao Victor has promised fans that they will come up with an even better showing in the 2021-22 Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL). The Telangana-based club narrowly missed out on the semi-finals last season but now look all set for the upcoming edition having already signed big names like Bartholomew Ogbeche from reigning champions Mumbai City FC and Edu Garcia from ATK Mohun Bagan.

Victor, who was pivotal to Manuel Marquez’s team’s performance in 2020-21 and recently signed a two-year extension, has high hopes ahead of the new season. “The fans can expect a lot of fight from us again, like last season. We are no longer a surprise; we have shown everyone what we can do and we are here to fight to be on the top.

“Our supporters can also expect good football as that is our identity and the style we want to play. And I hope that the fans can show the same support again next season, if even if it is from afar,” he told Hyderabad’s FC official website.

Last season, in what was his maiden Hero ISL, Victor featured in 17 games and had three goals and two assists to show for his efforts. Although, it has been just one season for him in India’s premier football league, he is already impressed. “I always knew it wouldn’t be easy. The league has a good level of football. Of course, there is a lot to improve on but I think it is moving in the right direction,” he said.

As per a new rule, the Hero ISL will now see four foreigners on the pitch at a time instead of five. Victor didn’t make much of it. “I think last season we already played with three or four foreigners for most of the games due to injuries. The Indian players have already proved themselves last season and it is not going to be a new experience for the squad.

“I think we as a team will be stronger as we have a good mix of youngsters and experienced players. We, as foreigners, will also help them and I hope we can have a better season,” he said.

Apart from striker Ogbeche and attacking midfielder Garcia, Hyderabad FC have also brought in winger Abdul Rabeeh AK and forward Aaren D’Silva. Victor is excited about these new signings ahead of the next season. “Last year was amazing because we were all like a family. We never had problems with each other and mutual respect was the first rule. I hope this year is not too different. I have heard good things about the new guys and I hope together we can achieve our targets with Hyderabad FC,” the 32-year-old said.

“We were a really close-knit group and made a lot of memories on and off the field. So, I think I miss everyone from our bio-bubble. Even the hotel staff when I can’t cook my own meals. It was a real nice season for all of us.”

When asked how he has kept himself in shape during the off-season, he said: “I continue to train, as always. Of course, it is a long off-season and we need to train together soon. But with the experience of off-season routines all these years and with the help of our Strength and Conditioning Coach, Jose Carlos Barroso we hope to be fit for the start of the pre-season.”

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