A win will confirm HFC’s spot in the play-offs
Goa: After a morale-boosting win over FC Goa, Hyderabad FC are back in action in a blockbuster of an Indian Super League clash when they welcome Kerala Blasters to Bambolim this Wednesday.
With five wins in their last six games, HFC are at the top of the league table with 32 points from 17 games, and a win in this game will confirm HFC’s qualification to the play-offs. The Blasters, fresh from a 2-2 draw with ATK Mohun Bagan, are currently fourth in the table, with 27 points from 16 games.
Ivan Vukomanović’s side, who stand as the best defense in the league so far this season, have been one of the most consistent teams in the competition. HFC Head Coach Manolo Marquez believes that his side will be up against a very tough team on Wednesday.
“Every opponent is different. We don’t really know how this game will turn out so we have to be fully focused against a tough side tomorrow,” said Manolo.
The Blasters could make a few changes to their lineup with Sandeep Singh (accumulation of yellow cards) and Jorge Pereyra (red card) both suspended. But the likes of Alvaro Vasquez, Adrian Luna, Sahal Abdul Samad, Harmanjot Khabra, Jeakson Singh and Puitea have been in fine form since the start of the season.
Speaking about the opponents, Manolo Marquez said, “Kerala is currently having their best ever season in the ISL. They have very good players, especially in attack and they are very consistent everywhere on the field. They have experienced players but so do we.”
“Like the game earlier this season, tomorrow could be another close game and this time we want to get the win,” he added.
ISL’s leading goal scorer with 16 goals this season, Bartholomew Ogbeche, will be the biggest threat for the visitors on Wednesday. But the likes of Javi Siverio, Nikhil Poojary and Joel Chianese have also been fruitful in front of goal in the last few games.
Skipper Joao Victor has also been among the goals but his efforts in the midfield to shield the HFC backline have been crucial to the club’s run in this season.
Speaking about the permutations around the league table, Manolo further added, “May be people don’t think about it much but if we win this game, we are mathematically in the top-4. So, this game is very important. But when we lost games earlier in the season, the team has reacted really well so it is not all over if we don’t win tomorrow.”
“However, we are only thinking about giving our best in this game. We know it will be a tough game. But it will be a tough game for Kerala as well,” Manolo added.
Hyderabad can move to 35 points with a win in this game, which will secure them a place in the play-offs. But having lost 1-0 to the Blasters in the reverse fixture earlier this season, Manolo’s men will have to be at their best to secure all three points on the night.
“We are always looking to improve,” said Manolo speaking ahead of this game. “The perfect team doesn’t exist. We are happy for our season so far but nothing is decided yet and we will try out best to win this game,” the Spaniard added.
With the best defense in the league in Kerala and the best attack in the league in Hyderabad going up against each other, this Wednesday night clash promises to be a Blockbuster at Bambolim.
The game kicks off at 7:30 pm on Wednesday and will be telecasted live on the Star Sports Network with live streaming on Disney+ Hotstar and JioTV.