After a memorable 2020-21 Indian Super League (ISL) campaign, Hyderabad FC are finally back in action in the 8th edition of the competition when they host Chennaiyin FC on Tuesday at the GMC Stadium, Bambolim, which will also serve as their home venue this season.
Manolo Marquez’s side started their pre-season in September back in Hyderabad and have since played strong sides like Churchill Brothers, Salgaocar FC, and Gokulam Kerala while also testing their mettle against ISL sides Mumbai City, NorthEast United, and Odisha FC, in pre-season friendlies as they aim to go into the first game, fully prepared.
The HFC head coach believes that these friendlies are very important for teams before they kick off the competitive season. “I think pre-season games are another training session but for players and staff, it is better to play such games to get into matchday routine,” he said.
“I don’t think scores are that important in these games. The results give us an idea where we stand but what is important is that we are getting better and playing to our style,” Manolo added.
Chennaiyin, who finished in the eighth place in the points table last season, nine points adrift of HFC in fifth, have since made quite a few changes to their roster, including their Head Coach. Montenegrin coach Bozidar Bandovic took charge of the club back in July and will look to make a fresh start this season.
The likes of Vladimir Koman, Lukasz Gikiewicz, Ariel Borysiuk, Slavko Damjanovic, and Mirlan Murzaev are all fresh faces to Indian football and could pose a threat to Manolo’s side in this game.
But for Hyderabad FC, the likes of Bartholomew Ogbeche, Javi Siverio, Joel Chianese, and Edu Garcia along with Indian stars like Halicharan Narzary, Aniket Jadhav, and Mohammad Yasir have all impressed in pre-season games and will pose a selection headache for Manolo Marquez.
Speaking about starting the new season on Tuesday, Manolo said, “When you start a new season, after a long pre-season, you have to stay positive and optimistic about your chances.”
“We can no longer compare ourselves to the previous season. We want to keep playing good football, we want to continue the development of our youngsters and we want to show our fans that we can improve on last season. But we know it is not easy so we will be fully focused in every minute this season,” the Spaniard added.
Hyderabad FC managed to pull off a double over Chennaiyin FC, registering 2-0 and 4-1 victories in the previous campaign. But with a changed side in the opposing dugout this time around, this clash is going to be a testing one for both sides.