Before Hyderabad FC face Odisha FC on Thursday, the two head coaches spoke to the media.

A place in the top four will be up for grabs, but for that Odisha FC will have to tame Bartholomew Ogbeche and Hyderabad FC in the 2021-22 Indian Super League at the Tilak Maidan Stadium on Thursday. Hyderabad are top of the table at the moment and will stay put, while Odisha go into the game having kept two consecutive clean-sheets against ATK Mohun Bagan and NorthEast United. Ahead of the encounter, head coaches Manolo Marquez and Kino Sanchez spoke to the media on what to expect from the clash.

Hyderabad FC head coach Manolo Marquez

How crucial was the win against SCEB after a series of draws?

Manolo Marquez: It is always important to win a game. We got to win the last game and are with 20 points. We have to continue with eight games still to play, every game is a battle. In some moments during the first half, East Bengal was better than us, but we had very good players and finally, we could win the game. If you win after these draws, it is fantastic, If you lose then these draws are not a good result.

Are there any areas where the team can improve?

Manolo Marquez: Now we don’t know all the teams and which players are available till the last moment, if there are positive cases. There are always areas to improve. Sometimes, you have to put players out of position and let’s see what happens because Odisha had to continue with the same problem. We are the team with the most goals and the second team with the least conceded goals. But, of course, we have areas to improve because a perfect team does not exist.

Expectations & differences from the reverse fixture against Odisha?

Manolo Marquez: I don’t see too much difference. The score was 6-1 but if you remember the game. When they scored the equalizer, they had very clear chances to score the second goal. We scored the second just before half-time, scored the third in the first minutes of the second half and the game finished. Kino, I wish he can be on the bench tomorrow. The team is very similar, play a similar style, but press a little higher. The wingers are the same. In my opinion, the coach does not play, it’s the players that play.

What is your opinion on the growth of Aniket Jadhav from pre-season to now?

Manolo Marquez: Aniket Jadhav has a lot of qualities, but he is young. He has and can improve in a lot of areas, especially in decision-making. He is a player, with his qualities, can be an important player in Indian football because he can score, dribble, pass, dribble and at this moment he is an important player in our team.

What was your assessment of Javier Siverio & Bartholomew Ogbeche playing together?

Manolo Marquez: I told before the match that we had to find the correct moment for both the players, so that they can play together. Let’s see if we can start with both or only one. It’s difficult, but we have to decide today about the lineup.

How much does it impact the preparation knowing there could be last-minute changes in any team?

Manolo Marquez: We are on top of the table. If you are third or fourth you could give this as an excuse, but if you are on top, it becomes important. First thing is the health of the players. I know its very difficult for the ISL and I am sure they are trying their best for the competition, but now the 11 teams have had positive cases. I don’t know if it’s the correct moment to think about football, but It’s a very difficult decision.

If you want to cancel the ISL, let’s see who wants to play in ISL next season. I don’t know which is the best option, but for sure it’s more mental competition than a sports competition at the moment. We are happy and satisfied because we are on top, but mentally it’s hard. All the staff, players are in a bubble, in a room all day, except during the training session. It’s not a jail, but we cannot go out or order food or go to the beach, which is very close. We are professionals, we have to continue and accept the decision of the ISL.

Odisha FC head coach Kino Sanchez

What changes did you make to fix the leaky defence in the past two games?

Kino Sanchez: We were trying to implement some movements. We were trying to explain to the players some differences, than we want to make covers, some behaviours that defensive players must do during the situation of the game. So, I think the team is getting compact with the players from the midfield and the sides helping. Also, some good performances from the defensive players.

The club has announced two players. How many more are expected to join?

Kino Sanchez: It’s something that I cannot assure yet. The team is working on adding some players to the squad for the last few months of the competition. We will see which players can come to the squad.

Three points against Hyderabad & you’re right back in to the race for the playoffs. What are your thoughts on that & what is the mood in the camp?

Kino Sanchez: We think that we have our options, but I think this match is only three points. We have to think that there are nine matches left. Of course, winning will be a boost for the team to be in the top five. But, we are thinking of building the team for the last matches because there are still nine matches to play. We think we will be fighting in the end for a spot in the playoffs.

Will we see Aridai Cabrera & Johnathas de Jesus feature against Hyderabad?

Kino Sanchez: Let’s see. We are still waiting for the medical reports. We hope that we can see them in the match.

Do you think the preparation was good enough in the three days for the game, after playing against ATK Mohun Bagan in a 9:30pm fixture?

Kino Sanchez: Of course, it’s not something that only our club, but all the clubs are suffering. Playing in 2-3 days doesn’t let you prepare completely. It’s not only about physical and recovery aspects, but also the tactical aspects. You’ve only one real training session for preparing for the game.

The way the competition is doing, it is something we can’t control. If I could choose, I would prepare not playing against ATK and have six days to prepare for the match against Hyderabad. But, we don’t complain about that. We just prepare and try to give the players confidence to be ready. They have a lot of video sessions with us, that maybe we can’t do on the pitch because of the physical aspects. All the teams suffer. Look at Hyderabad FC, they played yesterday and now they have to play again against us.

Ogbeche has scored a hat-trick and is the highest scorer this season. How do you want to prepare against him?

Kino Sanchez: They have really good players on the pitch. Not only him, the attacking players of Hyderabad, not only Ogbeche, they are making great games. Ogbeche is of course the main man scoring the goals. Even against us he scored a brace. He’s a really good player. I trust against Ogbeche my team can stop him.

What is the approach behind playing Javi in the false nine position?

Kino Sanchez: It was because Johnathas (de Jesus) was not available for the match. We know that Johnathas gives us powers in the long balls. He’s a player who plays really good against defence. Javi gives a lot of things to do to us like his mobility, quality of his passes, his dribbling abilities is really good in taking defenders out of the pitch against us. Both of them are really good. We’re expecting them to choose them together. They’re giving different things to the team.

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