Hyderabad FC head coach Thangboi Singto is xpecting a good performance from his team as they host Odisha FC in the opening game of Matchweek 14 of the Indian Super League (ISL) 2023-24 season at the GMC Balayogi Athletic Stadium in Hyderabad on Monday.

Singto’s men have failed to secure a win so far in the league this season, registering only four points in 12 matches. They are currently placed at the bottom of the table. On the contrary, Odisha FC have remained unbeaten in the league since their loss to Kerala Blasters FC back in October 2023, climbing up to the second position. In their last meeting, the Kalinga Warriors stole all three points with a 3-0 scoreline at the Kalinga Stadium. 

Hyderabad FC will play their second game in five days when they take to the pitch against Odisha FC. Singto stated his team would have preferred a longer gap as his main focus is on the recovery of the players.

We would have wanted more time to prepare. The focus is more on the recovery for the team because we have a young squad at the moment, but, the combination with some of the senior players, I think we need a little bit of time as recovery is most important,” stated Singto in the pre-match press conference.

Odisha FC have emerged one of the strongest contendors for the ISL League this season. They have won eight of their 13 games so far and have suffered defeats in just two games. Singto is aware of the threat that the star-studded Kalinga Warriors pose to them and considers them to the one of the best teams in the ISL.

He shared, “If you ask me which are the best teams in ISL, I think at the moment Odisha FC is one of them. They have one of the best Indian goalkeepers (Amrinder Singh). They have two of the best center backs in ISL, that is (Mourtada) Fall and Carlos Delgado. (Ahmed) Jahouh, one of the best midfielders and two of the most prominent, lethal, and clinical strikers at the moment, that is Diego (Mauricio) and Roy Krishna.”

Singto has faith in his younger players as he witnessed them giving their best for the team in the Kalinga Super Cup 2024 and the last game against table toppers, FC Goa. 

“Saying that we are afraid of Odisha FC, not at all. Because we have shown in Super Cup and again in the last match which we played against FC Goa. All the young boys, when they came, I think, I know they're not ready yet, but they tried their best to follow instructions, individually as a player, and trying to stick to the team tactics, whatever we told them,” said Singto.

Hyderabad FC have conceded plenty of early goals this season which has made it difficult for them to find their way back in the games. Singto expressed his concern on the issues. 

He said, “We really need to step up in the first 10-15 minutes because there's an area of concern for us. Even today I was addressing the team and saying that as soon as the whistle is started, we should be on our toes straight away, not wait for 20 minutes to be really on our game because we have conceded probably in the first 10-15 minutes and then the end of the game, like last 10-15 minutes. So that is an area we need to really work on. It's about concentration.”

We are very confident: Abdul Rabeeh

Midfielder Abdul Rabeeh accompanied Singto to the press conference. The 23-year-old showed glimpses of brilliance against FC Goa on Thursday, making the best out of his first start of the season. 

Rabeeh is confident that they will give Odisha FC a tough game.

We are ready for tomorrow (Monday). We know it's going to be a tough game, but we are confident, very confident. I think we will give a very tough game,” he shared.

Expecting to increase his contribution towards the team with more game-time, the Kerala-born player added, “Coach trusts me a lot. So this makes me feel like I can play more minutes and I can give my best for the team. So I'm very confident to play rest of the games.”