Hyderabad FC host FC Goa in crucial game
Battle at the top of the league table intensifies as HFC prepare for crunch clash at Bambolim
Goa, February 18, 2022: Having now registered four wins in their last five league games, Hyderabad FC will look to continue their momentum when they take on FC Goa in yet another testing Indian Super League clash, in a 9:30 pm kick-off at Bambolim this Saturday.
Currently at the top of the league table, Hyderabad have 29 points from 16 games and are up against FC Goa, who are currently ninth and are all but out of contention for a place in the playoffs.
However, HFC could fall to the second place depending on the result of the clash between ATK Mohun Bagan (2nd, 29 pts, 15 games) and Kerala Blasters (4th, 26 pts, 15 games) who face-off in a 7:30 pm kick-off at the Tilak Maidan on Saturday, making this a crucial game for Manolo Marquez’s men.
Speaking about the chances of qualification for Hyderabad, Manolo Marquez said, “It is difficult to say that we need certain number of points from our games to qualify for the top-4. There are six teams fighting for four places and there are many games among these contenders.”
“We are at the top now but when you don’t play, the opponents get closer. So, the only thing we can tell the players is to take it step-by-step and game-by-game. We have to be focused on the Goa clash and think about one game at a time,” added the Spaniard.
The Gaurs have won just one of their last five league games but have proven tough to beat all throughout the competition. The likes of Alberto Noguera, Jorge Ortiz, Edu Bedia, Ivan Gonzalez, Airam Cabrera have been impressive in stints while the Indian stars like Brandon Fernandes, Glan Martins, Anwar Ali and Seriton Fernandes have added stability to the side.
Hyderabad FC saw Joao Victor and Javi Siverio on the scoresheet in the win over Bengaluru FC in the last round. Bartholomew Ogbeche, Joel Chianese, Nikhil Poojary, Aniket Jadhav and Rohit Danu have also been effective in the final third all throughout the season.
The likes of Juanan and Chinglensana Konsham with the support of Akash Mishra, Asish Rai – who returns from his suspension – and Laxmikant Kattimani, have formed a formidable partnership to stand as one of the best defenses in the league. But they could have their work cut out against a Goa side that can carve open any backline on their day.
The HFC Head Coach also believes that this could be a vital game for his side in the race to the top. “If we win tomorrow, we will not qualify yet. If we lose tomorrow, we are not out of the fight for the top-4. But we want to win this game and are preparing for the same. I hope we can add three more points tomorrow,” said Manolo.
Hyderabad FC were held to a 1-1 draw in the reverse fixture earlier this season. Meanwhile, the Gaurs knocked HFC out of the top-4 in the final league game of the previous ISL season, but a win in this game for Hyderabad will dent Goa’s hopes of ending the season on a strong note.
With plenty of on-field battles and a few scores to settle for both sides, this clash teases to be a thriller, with both teams aiming for a win.
Head Coach Manolo Marquez believes even with qualification out of their hands, FC Goa will be on the top of their game this weekend. “I think that every game is difficult and against Goa, it will be the same. They may be out of the race for qualification but they will want to finish as high as possible. So, like every game between the two teams, this one will be another difficult one for both sides,” said Manolo.
The game kicks off at 9:30 pm on Saturday.