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ISL: Marquez believes Hyderabad will have to continue work of last season to qualify for play-offs

ANI | November 16, 2021 04:31 PM
Hyderabad FC head coach Manolo Marquez (Photo: Hyderabad FC)

By Anukul Chauhan

New Delhi [India], November 16 (ANI): Taking inspiration from the exploits of last season, Hyderabad FC head coach Manolo Marquez has all the reason to believe that Nizams can qualify for the Top-4 in the 2021/2022 season of the Indian Super Lague (ISL). But the Spaniard is not over-confident as he realises that the league is returning after a long gap and the teams will take their time to test the waters.

After a disastrous first season in the ISL which saw the team from Hyderabad finishing last, the hopes were bleak for the team in 2020 too after their coach Albert Roca joined FC Barcelona's coaching staff under Ronald Koeman. But in-comes Manolo Marquez with his possession-based football which is true to his Spanish roots to manage the team in India for the very first time.

Under his tutelage, HFC managed to get 29 points from 20 games, which includes six wins, three losses, and eleven draws. In the end, Hyderabad narrowly missed the playoffs as they finished 5th in the league table.

"All the people know that I arrived at the last moment before last season," Manolo told ANI. "We had a good season. Even after completing the competition in Goa, I went to the city of Hyderabad. And even in this season before the start of the preseason, we started training sessions in Hyderabad. I am very much happy in Hyderabad," the coach added.

When asked about the expectations from the upcoming season. The Spaniard said: "It is difficult. There is a big problem in India that there is a big gap between the season. I think if you look at every ISL some things change. If you look at the last ISL we were very close to be in top-four. And obviously, we will this season try to qualify for play-offs."

"But six-seven months after that all the eleven teams have changed a lot of players, coaches have been changed and at this moment if you ask the eleven head coaches in the ISL, more or less the answer will be the same. Practically all the teams can be champions because the competition is very very equal but let's see how we and other teams start," he reflected.

"We will have to continue the work of last season if we aim to qualify for play-offs."

One of the strengths of HFC under Manolo has been his trust in the Indian players which has paid massively for the team. But the head coach believes that all the positive things that people say about him are for the players because they have quality and rightly deserve their chance in playing XI.

"People say this that 'good that you support young Indian players, they play well' and all these kinds of things. The real thing is when they play, we can say a lot of names Asish Rai, Chinglensana Singh, Akash Mishra, Hitesh Sharma, Mohammad Yasir -- if they don't have the quality it's impossible that you put them in the lineup. All the positive things that people talk about me and staff, for me these things are for players because if they wouldn't have reached enough level we would put another player before them (in the lineup). They show in every training session that they have the level to play not only in Hyderabad but 3-5 (players) [can play] in the first team of Igor Stimac in the national team," he added.

On Sunday, Hyderabad FC announced their final 26-man squad for the upcoming edition of the Indian Super League which will be held in Goa for the second successive season. Defender Juanan Gonzalez, midfielder Edu Garcia and attackers Bart Ogbeche and Javi Siverio are the four new additions to the overseas contingent at HFC.

Talking about the new signings, he said: "The thing was we have to sign players keeping in mind the change of rules [of the number of foreign players in the squad]. You try to bring the players who can play better with your style of play. And we need players with experience."

The head coach also reflected on the pre-season as he said: "Our last game was February 28 and finally we decided to start in September. The pre-season is more than two months sometimes it's too much time. So let's see what's happen. We organised a good pre-season in terms of friendlies games. Sometimes teams do have a good pre-season but not a good tournament. We are optimistic because we have a good team but let's see how the competition starts."

In February this year, Manolo signed a two-year extension with HFC. The 53-year-old who joined the Nizams in August 2020, signed a deal that will keep him at Hyderabad till the end of the 2022-23 season.

Talking about that, he said: "When I arrived I watched a lot of ISL games but I didn't know the real level of the players, teams and the organisations. I had doubts when I arrived here but when the club offered me the renewal contract, I think my answer was in less than five minutes."

"I think am very happy to train this team because I think that Hyderabad is a team that wants to grow. Hyderabad wants to be one of the most important cities in terms of football," he added.

Manolo persisted on playing good football with HFC in the upcoming season with the aim of reaching the Top-4 in the league.

"We have a good team and we have possibilities to reach top-4. And the possibility to play good football, possibilities to increase the development of Indian players and we have the possibility that they can grow in the city of Hyderabad," the coach signed off. (ANI)

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