Odisha FC are a stronger team than past seasons: Hyderabad FC’s Manolo Marquez
Hyderabad FC head coach Manolo Marquez expects a tough match when they travel to the Kalinga stadium in Bhubaneswar to face Odisha FC in Matchweek 19 of the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2022-23 on Friday.
The Juggernauts fell out of the playoff places after a run of one win in their last nine matches and face a Hyderabad FC side that is unbeaten in eight games and have one of the best away records in the league.
However, Marquez doesn’t anticipate an easy ride for his team.
“Odisha FC are a strong team when they play at home. They have won most of their points when they play in Bhubaneswar. We are facing a team fighting to reach the playoffs, so we know we will face a strong side and we expect a tough game,” he said during the pre-match press conference.
“Saul Crespo is one of the best midfielders in the competition. They have a good goalkeeper and a very good coach. Odisha FC are playing better compared to the last two seasons. They are improving every season since I arrived in India,” he added.
Hyderabad FC are coming into this match on the back of a creditable 1-1 draw away to league leaders Mumbai City FC, and are the only team that the Islanders haven’t managed to beat this season. Hitesh Sharma scored the all-important goal for the side in that 1-1 draw and the Spaniard was full of praise for him.
“I love the players who understand the game. Hitesh Sharma is now stronger physically and for me is one of the best midfielders in the league. If he can add some goals to his game then he will be even more complete. He is a player who understands the game very quickly,” Marquez said.
Hyderabad FC are still in contention for the League Winners’ Shield but would need Mumbai City FC to fail in two of their remaining three matches. Marquez is happy with his team's performance this season irrespective of where they finish.
“There are five teams fighting for four spots and one team will miss out. It's very difficult. That's why we are happy with our players as we have already qualified and are still in the race for the League Winners' Shield although it's very difficult,” the Spaniard said.
Defender Manoj Mohammad accompanied Marquez in the pre-match press conference and pledged to keep his feet grounded and continue to work despite the good performance this season.
“We prepare match by match. We are working hard and we hope to win this match,” he said during the pre-match press conference.
“We don't focus on just one player, we look at the whole team. Football is a team game and we will plan to stop them as a team. It will be tough as they are a good team but we want to get all three points because it's crucial for us,” he added.