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ISL 2021-22 Hyderabad FC Preview: The Nizams Eye Greater Heights After Impressive Second Season

Hyderabad FC, having missed out on the playoffs last season by just two points will hope to break the knockout jinx in their third Indian Super League season. Manolo Marquez’s men missed out on the fourth spot right on the last day where they came up short against a spirited FC Goa team and had to settle for fifth place. This season the number of foreign players has been limited to just four and this should work out for the Nizams owing to the exciting crop of young Indian players that they have in their ranks. Last season Manolo Marquez’s boys showed that well drilled teams can give big shots a run for their money even if they don’t have big names in their arsenal.

Now, with a few more months under his belt, HFC fans would be hoping the team to buy into Marquez’s philosophy and cope with the loss of few first team players.

STRENGTH

Hyderabad FC had the third-best defence in the league after Mumbai City FC and ATK Mohun Bagan last season. The quartet of Ashish Rai, Sana Singh, Odei Onaindia and Ashish Rai conceded just 19 goals last season. Onaindia is not there with HFC anymore but they have added Juanan Gonzalez. Also, the addition of experienced Pritam Soraisam and Nim Dorjee Tamang makes the backline stronger. However, there were some shaky performances in the goal last season and if Laxmikanth Kattimani – who is also one of the deputy captains – rectifies them then HFC should be one of the hardest backlines to crack.

WEAKNESS

HFC were one of the best defensive units but also one of the most underwhelming attacking units with just 27 goals to their name. Manolo also deployed wingplay owing to the speed of Liston Colaco and marauding runs of both the sidebacks. They do not have Colaco this season but they have roped in Bart Ogbeche, who himself is also a trickster like Liston, but they lack depth in the attack. They do have the likes of young Aniket Jadhav and Javi Siverio but an injury to Ogbeche could derail their season. The other forwards in the squad are Rohit Danu, Aaren D’Silva, and Joel Chianese.

ISL 2020-21 PERFORMANCE

Hyderabad FC finished agonisingly close to the playoffs. A loss in their last match against FC Goa meant that the Gaurs qualified as the fourth team and Hyderabad finished fifth in the league.

Position: 4th

Wins: 6

Draws: 11

Losses: 3

Points: 29

MOST NOTABLE SIGNING

It’s a tie between Edu Garcia and Bart Ogbeche. While Edu joins as a reinforcement in the midfield, Ogbeche is the replacement for Aridane Santana. Ogbeche has 34 goals in 53 ISL matches over three seasons. We have not seen much of Edu Garcia because of his injury problems last season but he is a sturdy customer in the midfield.

Another player who could light up their season is young Indian forward Rohit Danu. In coach Marquez’s words, “Rohit Danu will be one of the most important players for us. He is just 19 and a very smart player.”

HISTORY IN ISL

In two seasons, Hyderabad FC have made noticeable progress. In their first season, they finished last with just two victories to their name. In the 2020-21 season they finished fifth.

CHANCES/PREDICTION

Hyderabad FC narrowly missed out on playoffs last season, mostly due to lack of goals. They have addressed that issue this time, so it would a disappointment if they do not at least finish in the top-half of the league.

SQUAD

Goalkeepers: Laxmikant Kattimani, Gurmeet Singh, Lalbiakhlua Jongte

Defenders: Akash Mishra, Asish Rai, Chinglensana Singh, Juanan Gonzalez, Pritam Soraisam, Nikhil Prabhu, Nim Dorjee Tamang

Midfielders: Joao Victor, Mohammad Yasir, Souvik Chakrabarti, Hitesh Sharma, Sahil Tavora, Nikhil Poojary, Edu Garcia, Mark Zothanpuia, Halicharan Nazary, Abdul Rabeeh

Attackers: Bart Ogbeche, Javi Siverio, Joel Chianese, Rohit Danu, Aniket Jadhav, Aaren D’Silva.

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