The Nizams are yet to win a match against the Gaurs in the ISL.

Hyderabad FC find themselves placed at the top of the table with 29 points to their tally. The Nizams have emerged as a dominating force this season. Their hard work and patience in the past seasons have perhaps started bearing fruits. Manolo Marquez has been a blessing in disguise to the side. The Spaniard will surely be looking forward to keep his team’s position fixated at their current place, since ATK Mohun Bagan are just behind them with similar points but a worse goal difference.

Meanwhile, this hasn’t been the best of seasons for Derrick Pereira’s men. The Gaurs find themselves in the ninth position of the table. The team has been affected by the Covid virus yet again. However, if FC Goa salvage a victory in this encounter, they’ll step a spot higher in the ladder.

Ahead of this scintillating clash, head coaches Manolo Marquez and Derrick Pereira addressed the media and shared their thoughts.

Hyderabad FC coach Manolo Marquez

Any concerns in the Hyderabad FC squad ahead of the crucial stage?

Manolo Marquez: It’s very difficult to say that we need four, five, six, or seven points because we need to be focusing on the Goa game because every day, there are a lot of games, even head-to-head. There are five-six teams, and Bengaluru are still in the fight. There are six teams and four places, there are teams with more games, another team with less games.

As I said earlier, it’s not always about the table. We are still on the top, after I don’t know how many days, but of course, if you don’t play your game in every match, the opponents will get closer. So, the only thing we can say to the players is to take each game step-by-step, focus on FC Goa, and when we finish the game, even if we win, draw, or lose the game, our focus will be on the next game.

How does new signing Khassa Camara fit into your plans?

Manolo Marquez: When Edu Garcia left the team, we had this possibility, Hyderabad offered me this option, and in another situation I think that we would finish only with five foreigners and at this moment we have Juanan and Joao [Victor] with three yellow cards. We had the possibility to sign Khassa Camara, a player who knows ISL perfectly.

I think it’s only four games and we hope for the semi-finals too but at least four games he can contribute to the team. Let’s see if he will play tomorrow, if he will be on the bench, in the starting lineup, or out of the squad because he had to be in quarantine. But of course, we know him, he’s a very good player in the ISL and for us too.

Given FC Goa’s league position, is this your best chance to seal the playoffs berth?

Manolo Marquez: Yes, but I repeat, there are a lot of circumstances that don’t allow them to be in the fight for the top four. For me, sometimes when you play against teams that are only fighting to improve the position and not for the top four, they can play with more calmness given their quality. In the case of FC Goa, they have a quality side.

So, every game is different and now I think we have to be focused all 90, 95, or 100 minutes. I don’t know how many minutes the game will go on, but the focus is to beat FC Goa.

FC Goa coach Derrick Pereira

Approach for remaining matches

Derrick Pereira: It’s tough now. We have to just play for pride I feel. We have to just go with that same intention to do well and get the best results. There are such situations in this bubble, where it is very difficult to prepare the team. I am not giving excuses, but this is the reality. It’s very difficult to prepare the team for any match. 

But, I am happy that the players who have to get in there – there are players who are playing with injuries, when just coming out from isolation. It’s a difficult task right now. But, we are going to do our best. We will put our best foot forward. I am sure whoever goes in, they will put in their 100% effort in the remaining matches.

Staying Positive

Derrick Pereira: There’s no point in looking back at what has happened. We are looking only at the future. Like I said earlier, we are in the process to build a team for the future. There are a lot of youngsters who deserve to get into the team and will get an opportunity to perform. It’s very tough. Last year, when I was watching the matches from outside, I had a different perspective. But now from what I am experiencing in the bubble, I can understand what is going through all the teams, officials and players. It’s really tough right now, at least for FC Goa.

Team News

Derrick Pereira: Glan Martins is out with four bookings. There are injuries which we are taking care of. There are some players who are playing with injuries and who are very important to us. We have to keep a balance – not risk our players to further add weight to their injuries. There are injuries and positive cases also. But, we are managing.

Lack of squad depth

Derrick Pereira: I don’t think so. There were incidents where we could have made some changes here and there. Till today, I am saying that we are one of the best teams. Everybody knows why we are in this position on the table. I don’t want to keep repeating those reasons. But, we have a team that can challenge the teams who are on top right now.

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