The Spaniard spoke ahead of his side’s clash against Kerala Blasters on Sunday.

After suffering their first loss of the Indian Super League (ISL) season, Hyderabad FC are looking to get back to winning ways against a struggling Kerala Blasters side on Sunday. The Nawabs started the season well under Manolo Marquez, but there is still much room for improvement to challenge for a playoffs spot.

Inexperienced players in squad

The Spanish tactician was asked about whether the loss to Mumbai City was because of his squad’s inexperience, to which he replied, “I don’t think we agree with that. We created a few good chances against Mumbai. I only remember one big chance with Yasir from that game. That was really prominent because it was only one minute before half-time. 

“In some moments of the game, I thought that yes we did lack experience. It was a game with very good players, but young players lacking experience. These kinds of games happen when you have many players without much ISL experience,” he added.

Team’s morale

Despite that loss, Manolo Marquez doesn’t believe his squad’s morale has been impacted and said, “No, it doesn’t affect our morale. In football, there are three possibilities which are win, draw or lose. It’s not possible to win always, lose always or draw always. For me, one can only decipher whether a team is really good or not after they lose one game. We need to reassess our situation and I’m sure that our team will try to play a good game tomorrow. But, I think the defeat against Mumbai doesn’t affect our confidence going forward.”

Kerala Blasters’ threat

WATCH: Manolo Marquez speaks at the pre-match press conference

The Spaniard has a lot of respect for Kerala Blasters and is wary of their threat, including that posed by his former player Vicente Gomez. He said, “Kerala are a very good team. If you remember the first game against ATKMB, they took the game right to them. I know that they equalized in injury-time in the last game, but they have very good players and maybe they deserved more points than they have. 

“I know Vicente very well, he was my player at Las Palmas. I think they have great players in all their positions, from the goalkeeper until their forwards. Their coach won the I-League last season. For sure, it’ll be an equal game, but my opinion is Kerala Blasters are not a team to be in their current position,” he added. 

Standards of refereeing

Manolo Marquez remained coy when discussing the standard of refereeing in India, drawing interesting comparisons to Spain and said, “In all the countries every year there is talk about the refereeing. In Spain, the referees are more favorites towards Real Madrid or Barcelona and they only do well for the strong teams. 

“These kinds of discussions are old. For me, we have to do self-criticism on the bench. We need to respect the referees more. Maybe, if the players don’t shout in the face of the referees, they would make better decisions. Maybe, if the referees are braver and show more red cards in certain situations, then things can work.”

Competitiveness of the league

The tactician believes that only Mumbai City are at a higher level in terms of performance than every other side in the ISL. When asked about the league’s competitiveness, he said, “It’s maybe because it’s a strange situation for the teams. The teams are in the same state, they are in the bio-bubble and maybe only Mumbai are at a higher level than the others. 

“But, there are a lot of strong teams and it’s normal in the beginning of the competition, that all the teams are more or less in the same situation. Of course, we can’t take that for granted. Most of the games are decided on small details.”

Injury updates?

“We have a squad with 29 players and yesterday 28 players were training. Only one player (Nikhil Poojary) is out for tomorrow and the rest are in contention.”

Finally, Marquez praised the work and dedication of Kerala Blasters head coach Kibu Vicuna, who is going through a difficult period. He said, “For me, if you are the champion in I-League, then for sure you are good enough to manage in ISL. I respect Kibu for his work as a head coach and an assistant coach. 

“One thing I must say about Kibu is he’s one of the coaches with the best attitude on the bench. I know his situation isn’t easy in terms of football and in terms of his personal life. I’m very sorry for him because his mother passed away. I think it’s a very, very hard moment for him,” he added. 

Gary Hooper

“The style of the opponent is that they always try to play good football. They have very good players and their line of three is very dangerous. Sometimes, strikers need good delivery to score goals. But, I don’t know what Kibu asks from Hooper in this case. Maybe he is happy with their work-rate.”

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