Hyderabad FC had a debut campaign to forget in 2019-’20 as they finished bottom of the table, registering just two wins and accumulating only ten points in the process.
The Nizams had the league’s worst defence conceding 39 times and the competition’s second-poorest attack. Coach Phil Brown was dismissed mid-season as his team failed to get going after the franchise assembled the squad just weeks before the start of the season.
Xavier Lopez took charge of the side but its fortunes hardly ever improved as they bowed out of semi-final contention early. Hyderabad did receive a boost mid-season with news of former Bengaluru FC manager Albert Roca being appointed as manager from the 2020-’21 season onwards.
The team’s performances improved towards the end of the season as they finished the campaign with an impressive 5-1 win at NorthEast United.
Things were starting to fall into place for Hyderabad until coach Roca, who was set to take charge, got an offer to join Barcelona as part of Ronald Koeman’s staff.
Hyderabad were once again left scampering for a manager ahead of the new season and brought in former Las Palmas manager Manuel Marquez.
The reset seems to have cost Hyderabad FC in the transfer market as their team has a half-baked look despite the management pulling off a coup by getting in the services of Albert Roca early.
After a rather unfortunate turn of events, Hyderabad once again head into the season with their task very much cut out.
What’s changed for 2020-’21
Ins: Halicharan Narzary, Lalawmpuia, Sweden Fernandes, Fran Sandaza, Joel Chianese, Odei Onaindia, Aridane Santana, Lluis Sastre, Chinglensana Singh, Joao Victor, Subrata Paul, Akash Mishra, Nikhil Prabhu
Outs: Keenan Almeida, Bobo, Marcelinho, Abhash Thapa, Kunzung Bhutia, Gani Nigam, Matthew Kilgallon, Kamaljit Singh, Marko Stankovic, Gurtej Singh, Rohit Kumar, Rafa Lopez, Giles Barnes, Robin Singh, Shankar Sampingiraj
Marcelinho is the biggest name to head out of the club along with Marko Stankovic. However, roping in Aridane Santana seems to be a good bit of business for Hyderabad. The Spaniard scored nine goals for Odisha FC last season.
The addition of Subrata Paul in goal will add much-needed experience and leadership to the squad although the foreign recruits don’t inspire a lot of confidence. Halicharan Narzary in another big-name arrival at the club.
Hyderabad’s strength certainly lies in attack with three foreign players in this department. The young Indian forward Liston Colaco who led Hyderabad FC’s strong finish to the campaign is also retained. Some young players like Hitesh Sharma, Nikhil Poojary are promising and will encourage Marquez to place his faith in them.
Adil Khan, as he has proven in his time with the national team, is a quality player in the Hyderabad ranks and his versatility will give the coach plenty of flexibility.
Hyderabad have looked good in pre-season beating FC Goa and playing out a draw against Bengaluru FC. They’ll be hoping to take this momentum into the new season.
Going with just six foreign players could be a decision that could come back to haunt Hyderabad FC. The Nizams have just one foreign defender and will mostly have to rely on Indian players to keep the sheet clean.
Hyderabad have only six defenders registered in their squad and although Khan can play in that position, they are certainly a bit short in that area given the short turnover between matches and the looming threat of coronavirus over the season. Marquez may have to make do with some makeshift players in defence if injury problems mount.
Coach: Manuel Marquez
Marquez is vastly experienced having coached for more than 15 years in the Spanish lower divisions. His best stint as a manager was with Las Palmas B team in 2016 when he helped them gain promotion. However, that was the last time he completed a full season at any club and his coaching stints since have ended prematurely.
Having grown up in Barcelona, Marquez is believed to have the same philosophy as Roca and thus expect Hyderabad FC to try and dominate possession and have a robust organisation during games.
Marquez was obviously not the club’s first choice but given the circumstances, he was the best they could have had.
Player to watch out for: Adil Khan
The Indian midfielder, who can comfortably play in central defence too, will be key for Hyderabad. He will mostly be deployed in defence given Hyderabad’s lack of numbers there. If he can form a solid partnership with Odei Onanindia it will largely help Hyderabad form a base for its attackers to cause some damage.
His leadership qualities will also be key for Hyderabad as most young players will look up to him both during matches and also in training. A threat on set-pieces, Adil Khan can also get among the goals to give the team a different dimension.
|Labiakhlua Jongte||Akash Mishra||Abhishek Halder||Aridane Santana|
|Laxmikant Kattimani||Asish Rai||Adil Khan||Fran Sandaza|
|Manas Dube||Chinglensana Singh||Sahil Tavora||Ishan Dey|
|Subrata Paul||Kynsailang Khongsit||Halicharan Narzary||Joel Chianese|
|Odei Onaindia||Hitesh Sharma||Lalawmpuia|
|Sahin Panwar||Joao Victor||Liston Colaco|
|Laldanmawia Ralte||Rohit Danu|