Today was the last chance to win the Shield: Hyderabad FC's Manolo Marquez
Hyderabad FC head coach Manolo Marquez hailed his team for their Hero Indian Super League (ISL) campaign so far, and expressed pride in the way his team competed against Mumbai City FC, a team that he considers the best in the league.
The defending champions halted Mumbai City FC’s record winning run of 11 games with a 1-1 draw at the Mumbai Football Arena on Saturday, a result that he feels was a fair reflection of the match.
FULL-TIME in Mumbai and it's a draw!— Hyderabad FC (@HydFCOfficial) February 4, 2023
A spirited effort from the boys who took on the league leaders and pushed them all the way.#MCFCHFC #WeAreHFC #మనహైదరాబాద్ #HyderabadFC pic.twitter.com/kAGtf3F4sV
“In my opinion, it's a fair result. They had some chances, and we had some chances. They scored from a clear penalty. In the second half, we played very well for the first 20-25 minutes and then we scored a goal through Hitesh Sharma who scored his first goal. He deserves that because he is a player who works and learns a lot in every training session,” Marquez said in the post-match press conference.
“We were very tired in the last few minutes. We wanted to try to win the game in the last few minutes but we could have lost the match as well as with (Alberto) Noguera and (Greg) Stewart created a lot of danger. But I am very happy and proud of my players. It's incredible that the season that these guys are producing,” he added.
The draw meant that the Islanders remained seven points ahead of Hyderabad FC in the Hero ISL points table, having played a game more and are now big favourites to claim the League Winners’ Shield. Marquez, though, was happy with his team’s performance despite the undesired result.
“We played a good game. It was a tactical game and we have to take into account the level of the opponent we faced. In the last three seasons, we have lost less than ten matches. So we are a tough team to beat,” the Spaniard said.
“Today was the last chance to win the Sheild, but Mumbai City FC is the best team in the league and that's all. We drew both games against them. So, these are two extra points that probably other teams will be able to get,” he added.
Marquez highlighted the difference between the two teams which was evident in the depth that the two squads possessed, but suggested that he was very happy with his squad of players.
“Mumbai City FC were able to replace Greg Stewart with Alberto Noguera. I think this the difference between a good team and a great team. We have a good team and I am very satisfied with my players, but if we had Joao Victor available we could have done something more towards the end of the game,” Marquez said.
“For Mumbai, (Rostyn) Griffiths played as a defensive midfielder for Mumbai City FC, but he played that position in Australia on most occasions. I think he is the best foreign player in the competition. He is a very important player for Mumbai City FC's team,” he added.
The 54-year-old was also full of praise for goalkeeper Gurmeet Singh who produced a fine save to deny Mumbai City FC all three points at the death.
“The goalkeeper's job is to stop the goals and Gurmeet Singh is doing that. He is a good goalkeeper and he will become a great goalkeeper. We lost some very important players during the season like Kattimani and Victor and the team is competing for every game with big teams,” he concluded.