The club had a historic season with several positives to takeaway.
Hyderabad FC became the Indian Super League 2021-22 champions by defeating Kerala Blasters in the final. The Nizams summed up a brilliant season in the most incredible fashion by winning the trophy through a penalty shootout. Manolo Marquez wrote his name in shining letters after guiding the club to the first-ever ISL playoffs and subsequently the ISL title.
Furthermore, the club were extremely close to winning the League Winners’ Shield. They led the league table for the majority of the season, but finished second to Jamshedpur FC. The deciding fixture between the two saw HFC miss several key players due to positive coronavirus cases. Owen Coyle’s men took advantage of the situation and overtook the Nizams to eventually finish atop the points table.
Having said that, the club will look back at the historic season fondly, one that saw them win their first silverware. Here is the season review for Hyderabad FC:
Fact Sheet for Hyderabad FC in the Indian Super League (ISL) 2021-22
Bartholomew Ogbeche was the difference-maker for Hyderabad FC. He scored 18 goals in 20 matches, winning the Golden Boot in the process. The Nigerian striker also became the all-time leading ISL goalscorer and currently holds the record with 53 goals in 77 matches, two more than second-placed Sunil Chhetri. Signing him from Mumbai City was a genius move, as the forward went on to deliver four braces and a hat-trick.
Juanan was another new foreign arrival that elevated the team’s overall quality. The centre-back was exceptional in leading the backline. He was the focal point in multiple defensive situations and cleared every threat in sight.
He made 2.9 clearances per game, amounting to 70 overall. One can say that Manolo Marquez wanted a leader at the back and Juanan performed that role to perfection.
Laxmikant Kattimani was a silent and consistent performer who made the most crucial contribution to the team in the end. He saved three fabulous penalties in the final to help the team win the penalty shootout and lift the ISL title in the process. Moreover, his tally of 61 saves was the highest for any goalkeeper in the 2021-22 season.
Underperformer of the season
The winger had a lot of expectations on his shoulders and a long-term injury to Halicharan Narzary saw him enjoy a lot of game-time. However, despite scoring two goals and making three assists, Jadhav struggled for consistency.
His goal conversion rate of 5% is indicative of the wastefulness of the player. He clearly needs more creativity in the final third and more confidence above all else.
1. Hyderabad FC 1 (3) – (1) 1 Kerala Blasters FC
2. Hyderabad FC 3 – 1 ATK Mohun Bagan
3. Mumbai City FC 1 – 3 Hyderabad FC
Manager’s Report Card
Manolo Marquez was exceptional. He was the brains behind the Hyderabad FC project that became extremely successful. The Spaniard continued to shine under pressure, building on the fifth place finish in his debut season in the ISL with HFC. His calming presence and immense composure resonated with the players who gave their best for the tactician.
The Nizams put their faith in Marquez who gave Indian youngsters ample game-time and recruited well, building a strong team in the end. Delivering the first silverware exceeded all expectations that the Hyderabad FC fans had from the tactician.
As of today, Manolo Marquez is regarded as one of the best head coaches in the ISL. He deserves every bit of credit coming his way. Lifting up a team that finished rock-bottom to fifth place and then making them champions within two seasons is no short of a miracle.
Lessons to be learnt
Hyderabad FC have a few areas where they can improve in the next campaign. Their defence was solid and conceded only 1.1 goals per game, but another senior Indian defender in the lineup would be an asset. Marquez also needs to work on the players’ mentality in situations whee they need to protect a lead.
On many occasions, the club gave the opposition too many chances to score. Coming away with only three clean-sheets from 23 matches is a cause for concern. More work needs to be done in being efficient in the final third. Hyderabad FC were also overly reliant on Ogbeche’s individual brilliance. Having said that, there weren’t many teams that exposed HFC as a unit.
Parth Batra: Watching Hyderabad FC challenge for the top spots was superb. Seeing them gain a semi-final spot was a memorable moment. The club took several good decisions, on and off the field, in order to achieve it. However, the best moment of the season was seeing the squad lift the ISL title. Manolo Marquez is a gift that we intend to keep and so is Bartholomew Ogbeche.
It will be interesting to see how the team performs next season. The expectations will be high, but it is important to be humble. As long as Marquez is the head coach, the club will be heading in the right direction.