We are a team that is more mature now: Hyderabad FC head coach Manolo Marquez
Hyderabad FC head coach Manolo Marquez is convinced that his players will give 100% effort to win the second leg of their Hero Indian Super League (ISL) semi-final against ATK Mohun Bagan at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan, in Kolkata, on Monday.
Hyderabad FC and ATK Mohun Bagan played out a goalless draw in the first leg of this semi-final at the G.M.C Balayogi Athletic Stadium, in Hyderabad, on Thursday. Both teams came close to scoring as they hit the crossbar, but couldn't find the net. With the second leg being held on Monday, just four days after the first leg, Marquez spoke about mood in the dressing room and the preparation ahead of the game in Kolkata.
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"The mood in the camp is very good. It's only three training sessions between both games. It's like a game in a bubble. We don't have too much time, it's more about the recovery session and preparing for the game again," Marquez said in the pre-match press conference.
ATK Mohun Bagan have witnessed contrasting results while playing at home and away this season during the league phase. The Mariners have secured sevens wins from 10 home games while winning only three out of their 10 games on the road. Marquez is aware of ATK Mohun Bagan's form at home, but said that his team will stick to their style regardless of where they play.
"They came (to Hyderabad) only with the idea of not losing the game and it is true that they have clear chances, two very clear chances but (we had) the control of the game. ATK Mohun Bagan is more different when they play at home and away even with this game. They have played six consecutive games without scoring a goal away from Kolkata," he said.
"But when they play in Kolkata they are like, comfortable and they are more confident. We know it will be a very difficult game, but as usual, we will have our chances for sure. We are a very good team whether we play at home or away because we don't change the style of the team too much," the HFC head coach added.
By finishing the league stage in the second position with 42 points, the reigning Hero ISL champion secured the semi-final spot for the second consecutive season. Last season, Hyderabad FC defeated the Mariners in the semi-final, winning 3-2 on aggregate despite losing in the second leg 0-1. They later beat Kerala Blasters FC on penalties in the final and went on to win the title.
Hyderabad FC have missed the presence of some key players during this season, both for short and long periods, but have maintained their consistency. Marquez explained that his players are mature enough to face such tough fixtures given their experience from last season.
"We have the experience of the last season. We are a team that is more mature now. In this kind of game, for example, when we played against ATK Mohun Bagan in the second leg of last season, some players were scared. But now the team is playing with a lot of personality because we have to remember that we lost very important players during this season but the team is competing and winning most of the games with (many different players). We are very satisfied. We will have our chances and they will also have their chances. Already this season is very, very good for us. But of course we want more. We will try 100% to win the game," the Spaniard said.
Hyderabad FC goalkeeper Anuj Kumar accompanied Marquez in the pre-match press conference. The 24-year-old was part of the FC Pune City side in 2017 that won the U-19 IFA Shield tournament by beating Mohun Bagan in the final. Kumar expressed his views on facing the Mariners in Kolkata and was confident to get the desired result in the second leg.
"It will be a good game. We have shown in the first leg that we are a good team and we are not (dependent) on individual players. So it's our strong point and we will go there and play a good game. It doesn't change much because either we play home or away. Here every player wants to play in a big crowd and here in India, it is not like people will come in and shout against you, so you play either in home or away, it will be a good game only for both the teams," he added.
Kumar made his Hero ISL debut this season against Jamshedpur FC and the goalkeeper has clocked 142 minutes so far, featuring in two games. He said the team's experience of playing in the semi-final last season would help them in the second leg.
"Now the team is more confident. I say that with more character, we don't have that pressure. I think if you place in the semi-final for the first time, the players will have pressure, but if you are in the situation continuously for two years, (there is no pressure), it will be a good game and we have confidence and then we will give our best," he concluded.