Hyderabad FC head coach Manuel Marquez is keeping his feet grounded despite his team performing exceedingly well recently, as they prepare for a stiff challenge against Kerala Blasters FC in their Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2021-22 match at the Athletic Stadium in Bambolim, Goa on Wednesday.

Hyderabad FC are now placed at the top of the league table with 32 points from 17 matches. They defeated FC Goa 3-1 in the previous game, last weekend.

Marquez addressed the media during the pre-match press conference.

Here are the excerpts from the press conference:

How are you preparing for the game, especially after knowing that Kerala Blasters FC are so close to you in the table? 

Yes. The preparation in particular is the same for every game. Of course, every opponent is different and you know more or less, which are the qualities of every opponent. But, we know we are very close to the end of the season. Now, we have to be focusing only on the Kerala Blasters FC game and we don't know exactly how the game will be, but for sure it will be a tough game for both teams.

How important is it to win against Kerala Blasters FC?

If we win this game, we are mathematically in the top-four because Mumbai City FC and Kerala Blasters FC have to play between themselves. If we win tomorrow, we are in the top four 100%. For that reason, it is very important.

Hyderabad FC are at the top of the league table right now. What does that mean for you as a coach? Does that make you confident, complacent or you feel there is still scope for improvement?

Always. I think that I have mentioned before that the perfect team doesn't exist and you have to improve. I was happy with the score against FC Goa, but maybe it was one of the days that we had to defend. Of course, we are very happy, I think that the season has been fantastic for HFC, but on the other side, the table is not real because for me. It is strange that when you are too much closer to the finish of the competition, the normal thing is that more or less in the games you have to put the same effort.

You have remained committed to your style of playing with the ball, no matter how the results have gone. Were you tempted to change it?

No. The thing is that in some moments it depends on the opponents playing style. For example, it  is very difficult to keep the ball against FC Goa, because they play with this style. In the press conference (earlier), I compare now with the last season our team, maybe we have, in some moments of the game, we have less possession than last season, but we don't need too much to create chances and to score is the reason we have scored more goals than any team in the competition.

Then I think that everywhere that I trained, not only in Hyderabad FC in different seasons, I think that you have to adapt to the player that you have in that moment, even with the injuries.

For example, in the beginning of the season, if you play with your Yasir (Mohammad) and Halicharan (Narzary), the style is totally different, but did you play, for example, Nikhil (Poojary) and Aniket (Jadhav), they have very good qualities, but I know their qualities are different. It’s true that we try to play the same style, but according to the qualities of our players

What was your target when the season began and how has it changed since?

I think that the target for all the people was that we have to finish in the top four, because last year we finished fifth. But the real target for us was to keep improving and the development of the players.

And I think that in this case, more or less without exemptions for injuries or for other reasons, but more or less, we are very happy with the performance of the boys, of the Indian players and the youngsters. I think that this is the target we achieved already, now we have to finish in the top four.