New Delhi [India], September 13 (ANI): Hyderabad FC have arguably been the most consistent, competitive and entertaining team in the Indian Super League (ISL) for the past two seasons.
They have finished second in the league standings for two straight seasons. And HFC have done so by playing an attacking brand of football, netting 79 league goals during this period, a tally only bettered by Mumbai City FC, as per an ISL press release.
Since their inception in 2019, the club reached the knockout stages of the ISL for the first time during the 2021-22 season. The side defied all odds to win their ISL Cup that season, coming back from behind to beat Kerala Blasters FC in the summit clash. Hyderabad FC continued their progression under former head coach Manolo Marquez in the 2022-23 season, securing a playoff berth again by finishing second in the league table.
But the club will have to start from scratch again. With Marquez moving to FC Goa, Hyderabad FC will be led by a new leadership group consisting of head coach Thangboi Singhto, first team coach Conor Nestor and Shameel Chembakath. The team has also parted ways with some of their core players from last season that includes Akash Mishra, Odei Onaindia and Borja Herrera.
*Performances in ISL so far
Hyderabad FC have come a long way since being established in 2019. The club struggled in their debut ISL season, finishing bottom of the standings. However, their fortunes changed once Marquez took charge ahead of the 2020-21 season. The Spaniard came close to guiding Hyderabad FC to the playoffs in just their second season, but they fell short of a semi-final spot by two points.
Hyderabad FC punched above their weight in the 2021-22 season, despite losing key players such as Lluis Sastre, Onaindia, Aridane Santana and Liston Colaco from the previous season. They suffered only four defeats in the league stage and made it to the ISL playoffs for the first-time ever. They got the better of Mohun Bagan Super Giant in the semi-final before going on to beat the Blasters in a nail-biting penalty shootout in the final to secure the ISL Cup, the club’s first silverware in history.
Similar to the 2021-22 season, Hyderabad FC suffered just four league defeats the following season, taking the second place. They finished four points behind League Shield winners Mumbai City FC in the ISL standings before being knocked out by Mohun Bagan SG in the semi-final.
*Team composition and transfer dealings
Hyderabad FC have lost some big players to fellow clubs, who were instrumental for the team during the last two seasons. The notable departures include Akash Mishra, Javier Siverio, Joel Chianese, Halicharan Narzary and Rohit Danu. Onaindia and Borja Herrera, who joined the club last season and played a massive role in their success, have also parted ways.
In terms of new acquisitions, Hyderabad FC are one of the ISL teams to have made the fewest amount of signings in the ISL summer transfer window, bringing in seven new players. They have brought in four new foreign players besides adding Vignesh Dakshinamurthy, Makan Chothe and Lalchhanhima Sailo to their Indian roster.
OUTs: Odei Onaindia, Akash Mishra, Borja Herrera, Javier Siverio, Joel Chianese, Halicharan Narzary, Rohit Danu.
INs: Lalchhanhima Sailo, Felipe Amorim, Makan Chothe, Petteri Pennanen, Joe Knowles, Jonathan Moya, Vignesh Dakshinamurthy.
Hyderabad FC’s longest-serving foreign player, Victor has established as one of the finest midfielders in the league in the past few seasons. A skilled box-to-box midfielder, he has been a mainstay in midfield for Hyderabad FC since joining the club. The Brazilian has played 53 matches for Hyderabad FC in the league, scoring 10 goals besides contributing three assists.
Victor missed a string of games during the business end of the league stage in the previous campaign after picking up an injury. He was a big miss in Hyderabad FC’s midfield as the side found it difficult to register wins. HFC will be banking on Victor to anchor the midfield again with plenty of new faces in the team.
The centre-back will enter his fourth season with Hyderabad FC and will be expected to marshall Hyderabad FC’s, especially after Onaindia’s departure. He captained the side in the Durand Cup tournament and will be expected to lead the team, whether he has the armband or not.
The 27-year-old has been a regular starter for the team since joining the club and is one of the best ball centre-backs in the country. His experience and expertise will be handy as Hyderabad FC look to replicate on their solid defensive displays from last season.
The young keeper is expected to keep his place between the sticks after a standout campaign last season. Singh was thrust into the playing eleven last season after first-choice keeper Laxmikant Kattimani was ruled out with a long-term injury. The Haryana-born custodian grabbed the opportunity with both hands and was solid at the back.
He tallied 41 saves in 14 games alongside keeping seven clean sheets. Singh’s encouraging performances have also earned him a call-up to the senior national team.
Hyderabad FC will host FC Goa in their opening game on September 22 and the clash will be a highly-anticipated one, with former head coach Marquez in the opposition dugout. They will play their next home game a month later after two difficult away trips against East Bengal FC and Jamshedpur FC.
The former ISL Cup winners will play Jamshedpur FC at home on December 21 in what will be their final game ahead of the new year.