Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

The HFC owner was optimistic about more Indian players shining in the ISL and breaking into the national team.

Hyderabad FC’s progress won’t be hindered by the cap on foreign players in the next Indian Super League season, feels owner Varun Tripuraneni. The ISL has reduced the number of foreign players to a maximum of four, in accordance with the Asian Football Confederation’s club competitions regulations. Tripuraneni sees this as an opportunity for young Indian players at the club. He hopes players can grab the chance and shoot to stardom.

The four foreign players rule means there “will be more and more opportunities for Indian players to emerge. Someone will take this opportunity and push for a place in the national team,” he said at a media interaction. “While building the squad we were looking at a three-year plan. We had this in mind that we have to plan with one less foreigner on the pitch.”

The club, however, won’t be new to playing with four foreign players in the starting XI. Last season, with most overseas stars out with injuries or in quarantine, Hyderabad FC started their first game against Odisha with only four foreign players. “But. that didn’t really stop the youngsters from taking on the challenge and proving their mettle,” said Varun. He is hopeful someone like Liston Colaco and Mohammad Yasir will emerge this year also.

Ogbeche & Edu Garcia signings

“I am confident they (young players) will push for a place in the national squad,” said an optimistic Tripuraneni. Hyderabad FC have already shown their intent by signing Bartholomew Ogbeche and Edu Garcia. Ogbeche scored two goals and assisted as many last season, while Garcia was instrumental to ATK’s title-winning charge in the campaign previous to last.

Suresh Letchmanan, Borussia Dortmund’s Managing Director, Asia Pacific, congratulated Hyderabad FC on the signings and hoped the club makes the playoffs this season. “Last season they missed the playoffs by two points. This year, I hope the team gets into the knockouts.”

Hyderabad FC players in national team

Hyderabad FC’s success in the ISL 2020-21 season saw players like Liston Colaco and Akash Mishra make their national debut. Varun Tripuraneni credited it to the ISL. Colaco and Mishra breaking into the national side had a lot to do with opportunities in the national team.

“We have seen the league grow by leaps and bounds in the last couple of years. Lots of young players have emerged every season. The national team has become stronger. Yes, there is a criticism of results with the national team. But, It is a process and we really believe that the national team is heading in the right direction,” said Varun.

Hyderabad FC – Borussia Dortmund partnership

Hyderabad FC and Borussia Dortmund celebrated their one year of their association last month. Both clubs remain committed to the project. Although the COOVID-19 pandemic has obstructed Dortmund from sending their coaches to India and also helping with Hyderabad’s grassroots development, both clubs have exchanged ideas online.

Like Dortmund, Hyderabad FC focused on the development and nurturing of young homegrown talents. It has already paid dividends with the club selling Colaco for a transfer of 1 crore to ATK Mohun Bagan. “I think the focus like Dortmund was to build homegrown talent and we wanted to build that sort of philosophy,” said the HFC owner.

“It is amazing that we could partner with a club like BVB and again just going forward, these are the sort of things that we would like to learn directly from them, but that will only be possible when the senior management, coaching staff are in Dortmund learning from the experts.

“The focus at least in the initial years is on a grassroots level. One of the important focus areas is coach education, which is extremely critical. We are a club that is trying to setup a grassroots program and youth teams and wanted to get it right from the beginning, which is one of the crucial aspects of this partnership. Coach education is an important aspect and hopefully, many young coaches will come through the BVB coaching initiatives,” Varun added.

Digital academy to share coaching ideas

While the pandemic has derailed most plans and initiatives, Dortmund will setup a digital academy to share coaching ideas. “We are about to setup a digital academy in order to serve our partners better and to give them access to certain exercises, tactical and technical issues of the game,” said Benedikt Scholz, Dortmund’s Head of International Business. “The platform could even be used by the coaches at Hyderabad for their planning and daily coaching. This is a specific initiative to be able to support Hyderabad FC.”

Dortmund Legends Vs Hyderabad FC match

Among the many initiatives cancelled by the COVID-19 pandemic was a Borussia Dortmund legend Vs Hyderabad FC match. The match, planned for March 2020, was supposed to be held in Kolkata, but had to be cancelled due to the pandemic ravaging India. “In March 2020, we were supposed to come with 22 legends from BVB history. Of course, we had to cancel that due to the pandemic,” informed Benedikt.

Will the match ever take place? Benedikt and Suresh Letchmanan, however, did not rule out the possibility of a match in the future ” now that the situation is changing.”

For more football updates, follow Khel Now on TwitterInstagram and join our community on Telegram.