Hyderabad FC dropped to second after losing 3-0 against Jamshedpur.
Hyderabad FC coach Manolo Marquez lashed out at the Indian Super League for going ahead with their match against Jamshedpur on March 1 (Tuesday). The Nizams, who had been on top of the ISL 2021-22 points table since January 24, were made to play a season-defining and potential ISL league shield-deciding match with a makeshift team after a COVID-19 breakout in their camp. Marquez revealed later there were eight positive cases in their camp. Hyderabad FC playing with a second-string side stood no chance and were comfortably beaten 3-0.
Infuriated with the result, Marquez hit out at the league on Twitter post the match. “When you are leading in the Indian Super League and a match is canceled due to COVID cases in the rival team, it seems fine to me,” said the HFC boss in a Tweet in Spanish. “But when the situation is reversed and they force you to play with 8 COVID positives, seems to me to be a clear adulteration of the competition. Goodbye to the league title.”
With Hyderabad FC at the top of the standings and Jamshedpur just a point behind on second with a game in hand, this was a potential clash for the league shield and AFC Champions League spot. However, a handicapped HFC side stood no match and so for the first time in over a month lost their top spot. Owen Coyle’s side are now two points clear at the summit and have a game on the Nizams.
The defeat effectively ends Hyderabad FC’s chances of topping the league and clinching the shield for the first time in their short history. They are still in with a run-in. But with Jamshedpur needing only five points from their remaining two games to seal the top spot, that looks highly unlikely. If Owen Coyle’s men get one more point, Hyderabad FC will be mathematically out of contention for the first position.
In his tweet, Manolo Marquez referred to matches being postponed when other teams were affected by COVID, but not in Hyderabad FC’s case. As many as six matches were cancelled and rescheduled in January when eight teams were severely affected by the COVID outbreak in their respective camps. One of those six games was this very fixture, initially set for January 17.
In its release, the league organisers had then mentioned that the match could not go ahead as Jamshedpur were unable to field a team. At least six players in the JFC camp had then tested positive for the virus, while many were isolating.
Manolo Marquez informed in his tweet eight members from the Hyderabad camp returned positive results prior to yesterday’s game. Yet the match went ahead with Hyderabad FC in position to field the minimum requirement of 15 players. Among those were four debutants. Asish Rai, who is carrying an injury, was also named among the substitutes.
Hyderabad were missing the league’s all-time top-scorer and this season’s Golden Boot leader Bartholomew Ogbeche. Goalkeeper Laxmikant Kattimani, midfielder and captain Joao Victor, right-back Nim Dorjee were the other absentees. As many as seven players from their previous match against Kerala Blasters were missing against Jamshedpur. In addition to that, Centre-back Juanan was suspended for this match after accumulating four yellows.
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