With marquee additions and promising youngsters, battle-ready Hyderabad FC look set to mount a stronger challenge

Hyderabad FC’s performances over the course of the seventh edition of the Hero Indian Super League were an indication of the club’s commitment to providing opportunities for emerging talents to shoulder responsibility while also playing an attractive style of football.

With their core of young Indian players retained and the addition of past Hero ISL winners like Bartholomew Ogbeche, Edu Garcia and Juanan to the team’s fold, the Nizams seem well equipped to have a successful 2021-22 campaign.

At the heart of their revival last season was their head coach Manolo Marquez. The former UD Las Palmas manager was roped in by the club to replace the outgoing Albert Roca and has had a profound impact on the side’s fortunes ever since his appointment.

“All the different countries have their characteristics. When you move to a new country, you have to adapt to the place with the habits and traditions that they have over there. Football isn’t an exception here. Indian players are better every season and there are a lot of young native players with a great future in the squad,” remarked Marquez, acknowledging the cultural differences and also the talent that he has observed in the Indian subcontinent.

History

The Nizams had a lackluster debut season in the Hero ISL, slumping to a 10th place finish in the 2019-20 campaign. The side registered 2 wins, 4 draws and 12 losses in their 18 games, finishing with 10 points under the guidance of head coach Phil Brown.

An impressive display followed in the seventh edition of the league, as Marquez’s side seemed destined to qualify for the semi-finals for a large part of the season. Although Hyderabad FC narrowly missed out on the top four spots, finishing fifth in the table with 29 points, their style of play and reliance on youngsters was a huge positive.

Players to watch out for

Bartholomew Ogbeche

With 35 goals, Ogbeche is the third-highest goal scorer in the history of the Hero ISL. The former Paris Saint-Germain player’s adventure in India commenced with Northeast United back in 2018-19, which was followed by a move to Kerala Blasters FC, and then a switch to champions Mumbai City FC in 2020-21, before landing in Hyderabad for the upcoming season.

Akash Mishra

The 19-year-old turned quite a few heads, including national team coach Igor Stimac’s, with his exploits last season. He made 80 tackles, 55 interceptions, and 37 blocks while also securing an assist in the 20 games he played for the Nizams in the seventh edition. Mishra encompasses the qualities of a modern full-back, contributing heavily to both ends of the pitch.

Joao Victor

Marquez has handed the skipper’s armband to the experienced Brazilian ahead of the new season. Joao Victor has previously featured in the top divisions of Uzbekistan, Spain, Cyprus, and Qatar before arriving in India. He was an instrumental presence in Hyderabad FC’s midfield last season, chipping in with 3 goals and 2 assists while also registering 47 tackles and 28 interceptions.

Chinglensana Singh

The center-back from Manipur had a fine 2020-21 season with Hyderabad FC, establishing himself as an assured presence at the back. He was a formidable presence off-the-ball making 26 tackles and 76 clearances, while his confidence on the ball was an asset for his team, as he racked up a passing accuracy of 84.34%. His partnership with Juanan will be pivotal in Hyderabad’s upcoming league campaign.

Key Battles

Hyderabad FC would be eager to avenge their top-four heartbreak from last season, when they face off against FC Goa on December 18, 2021.

The two teams contested a set of thrilling encounters in the previous edition. Two goals in the dying minutes of their first game, helped the Gaurs snatch all three points, while the sides settled for a goalless draw in a heated reverse fixture, that saw both sides ending the game with 10 men.

The draw ended Hyderabad FC’s hopes of making it through to the semi-finals, as the Nizams required a win to qualify. With both coaches emphasizing the need to play attractive, possession-based football, the match between these two sides promises to be an enticing encounter.

Fixtures

Date

Fixture

Venue

23-11-2021

Hyderabad FC v/s Chennaiyin FC

Athletic Stadium, Bambolim

27-11-2021

Mumbai City FC v/s Hyderabad FC

PJN Stadium, Fatorda

02-12-2021

Jamshedpur FC v/s Hyderabad FC

Athletic Stadium, Bambolim

08-12-2021

Hyderabad FC v/s Bengaluru FC

Athletic Stadium, Bambolim

13-12-2021

Hyderabad FC v/s Northeast United FC

Athletic Stadium, Bambolim

18-12-2021

FC Goa v/s Hyderabad FC

Athletic Stadium, Bambolim

23-12-2021

Hyderabad FC v/s SC East Bengal

Athletic Stadium, Bambolim

28-12-2021

Hyderabad FC v/s Odisha FC

Athletic Stadium, Bambolim

05-01-2022

ATK Mohun Bagan v/s Hyderabad FC

PJN Stadium, Fatorda

09-01-2022

Kerala Blasters FC v/s Hyderabad FC

Tilak Maidan Stadium

Squad

Goalkeepers: Gurmeet, Lalbiakhlua Jongte, Laxmikant Kattimani

Defenders: Chinglensana Singh, Juan Antonio Gonzalez Fernandez, Nikhil Prabhu, Nim Dorjee Tamang, Akash Mishra, Soraisam Pritamkumar Singh, Asish Rai

Midfielders: Joao Victor De Albuquerque Bruno, Aniket Anil Jadhav, Yasir Mohammad, Eduardo Garcia, Sahil Tavora, Hitesh Sharma, Hali Charan Narzary, Sauvik Chakrabarti, Nikhil Poojary, Abdul Rabeeh Anjukandan, Mark Zothanpuia

Forwards: Joel Chianese, Aaren D'silva, Bartholomew Ogbeche, Rohit Danu, Javier Siverio

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