Preview: Winless Hyderabad FC host in-from Odisha FC
Hyderabad FC lock horns with Odisha FC in search of their maiden win in the league this season.
Hyderabad FC will contest the in-form Odisha FC at the G.M.C. Balayogi Athletic Stadium on February 5, Monday, in pursuit of their maiden victory in the Indian Super League (ISL) 2023-24.
This match marks the commencement of the 14th matchweek of the current season of the ISL, with the home side still striving hard to catch hold of the coveted three points. They faced a 2-0 defeat to FC Goa in their previous encounter, with a Carlos Martinez brace depriving them of any point. Joao Victor was the only foreign international starting the game for Hyderabad FC and the situation is such that head coach Thangboi Singto has to make do with the available set of players, most of whom are from the domestic contingent.
Ahead of the fixture against the Gaurs, Singto had tried to look at the positive side of things, saying that this is a remarkable opportunity for him to do something noteworthy amidst the prevailing challenges. He needs to stay true to that perspective even against the Juggernauts, who last lost an ISL fixture back in late October this season. They have developed an impeccable record on the road this season, remaining unbeaten in their last four away games and have also emerged victorious in their previous two games in front of Hyderabad FC.
Moreover, their tendency to overcome difficult in-game circumstances has been one of the cornerstones of their success lately. Even against Kerala Blasters FC, Odisha FC showed impressive resolve to strike twice in the second half, thanks to Roy Krishna, and defeated them to get level on points with the top-placed FC Goa.
What’s at stake?
Hyderabad FC have a fairly young squad at their disposal and the coming few games give them an excellent opportunity to hand a proper account of what they could offer in the Indian top-tier. For starters, they need to find some spark in their attacking patterns, having found the back of the net only once in their last six home matches.
They are currently on a seven-game winless run at the Gachibowli, and a victory against one of the favourites of the title could really help reinvigorate the spirits of the fans who must have lost some hope and belief lately. Such issues are evident at the back too, reflecting in their inability to keep a clean sheet in each of their last 12 fixtures in the league. Overall, the season is not transpiring as they would have liked and there are a host of factors that could be held against them for that. However, the immediate concern must be to shove aside those problems and work towards putting up an inspiring performance in search of the elusive victory.
The Kalinga Warriors now have equal points as FC Goa (27), but have played two more games (13), as compared to the Gaurs (11). The race for the first place in the standings is expected to go down to the wire with the fixture between FC Goa and Odisha FC playing a pivotal role in that later in the season. However, that’s a long journey to chart and the Juggernauts at this point need to ensure that they maximise whatever opportunity comes their way.
To be fair, they have been on a winning spree off late with the only blip being the Kalinga Super Cup final loss to East Bengal FC. They have progressed admirably well in Asia and the seasoned guard of the squad has stepped up to the challenge more often than not, much like how Krishna did in the previous game. Odisha FC has averaged 10.2 sequences of 10+ passes per game in the current season, which signifies how quickly they have adapted to Lobera’s ideas and playing philosophy. They will be confident and hoping to return with all points possible from Hyderabad.
Abdul Rabeeh (Hyderabad FC)
Abdul Rabeeh featured for Hyderabad FC in the opening half of the season too, but his prominence and involvement in matches is set to increase in this leg of ISL 2023-24. He will be playing a slightly more advanced role on the field, and that could perhaps help his offensive instincts to come to the fore in a greater capacity. The 23-year-old has created six goal-scoring opportunities in eight games, intercepting thrice, and recording a 77% passing accuracy. Overall, he has made 29 appearances in the ISL, making 17 passes on an average in every 90 minutes and having notched three assists in total. Rabeeh will be up against a full-strength Odisha FC backline, with robust central defenders and dynamic fullbacks. His ability to work his way around them and influence the proceedings to the best of his abilities will be kept close tabs on.
Hitesh Sharma (Odisha FC)
Hitesh Sharma secured a move to Odisha FC from Hyderabad FC in the January transfer window and he will be hoping that his creative capabilities could be put to the best possible use by Lobera and his team. Hitesh can pack a punch whilst playing behind the striker, as his tenacious work ethic, and the desire to win every loose delivery or second ball helping the team retain and recover possession in dangerous areas higher up on the field. He completes almost three-fourth of his attempted passes, and can take a formidable shot from outside of the 18-yard box. Hitesh ticks the basic fundamentals that one would demand from modern-day midfielders, and Lobera almost specialises in bringing the best out of such Indian players. The second half of ISL 2023-24 promises an exciting journey for the 26-year-old.
Played – 9
Odisha FC – 4
Hyderabad FC – 4
Draw – 1
Trivia: Teams coached by Sergio Lobera are yet to concede a goal against Hyderabad FC in the ISL.
"The focus is on the recovery for the team because we have a young squad at the moment but with the senior players the recovery is important,” Hyderabad FC head coach Thangboi Singto addressed the quick turnaround time between the team’s match against FC Goa and the coming fixture against Odisha FC.
“We need to try to find a way to prepare for the game in the best way possible and not try and find excuses. The team is ready. We need to play three games in seven days and it’s not easy with the travel in between and we have to think about the challenges and not about the problems,” Odisha FC head coach Sergio Lobera said in the pre-match press conference.
Joao Victor (6.4cr)
Consistent contributions from the middle of the park
Amey Ranawade (4.5cr)
Assisted the winner by Roy Krishna in the last game
Amrinder Singh (4.2cr)
Has saved 22 shots from inside the 18-yard box this season
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Where to Watch
Fans across the country can catch the action in English, Hindi, Bengali, and Malayalam. Fans can watch the action on linear channels like Sports18 Khel (Hindi), Sports18 1 HD (English), Sports18 3 SD (English, Hindi, Malayalam and Bengali), VH1 SD & HD (English), Surya Movies (Malayalam), News 18 Kerala (Malayalam – select matches) & DD Bangla (Bengali). Fans can also catch the action streaming Live for free on JioCinema, the home of Indian football. In addition to this, as part of FSDL’s partnership with OneFootball, ISL live streams and highlights of all matches of the upcoming 2023-24 season will be delivered across more than 190 countries.