The tactician and key figures from the team talk to the media ahead of their opening clash against the Islanders.

Hyderabad FC will start its 2022-23 Indian Super League (ISL) season against Mumbai City FC on 9 October 2022. Manolo Marquez’s side, winners of the ISL Trophy 2021-22, will not have it easy in their opening clash against the Islanders that won the 2020-21 ISL Winners’ Shield and Trophy. It will be a big occasion when both giants of the league meet at the Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex in Pune on Sunday.

The stakes could not be higher as for the first time in their history, HFC will step into a season as defending champions. There are new challenges waiting in store for manager Manolo Marquez and his men. 

In preparation for the exciting contest, the manager had an interaction with the media along with captain Joao Victor and Nikhil Poojary. Here are the excerpts from the media interaction: 

The mood in the camp

Manolo Marquez gave an insight as to how are the players feeling ahead of the ISL 2022-23 opener. He said, “I think that when a season starts, you must always be ready. You play football because you like it, so you have to be happy and prepared. We are in a good place at the moment but finally, the main target is to arrive at the first game in the best condition possible.”

High on confidence

The manager also talked about the importance of continuity and how it gives the team confidence. He said, “We are a team with a lot of continuity and that has been the key to our success. We signed some players who took advantage of the minutes they got in the Durand Cup. We know it is difficult to be at our best for our first game. But we are confident that the team will be very competitive this season as well.”

More games are a good idea

Manolo Marquez gave his input on how playing more matches is a good idea but also advocates playing all tournaments at the same time. He said, “We were discussing this the other day, the foreign coaches, that it’s a good thing to play more games. But, I think we can still improve more. For example, if we mix the different competitions. Durand Cup was good, it was like pre-season, I know it is a very prestigious tournament, but now we start the ISL and of course, it is the main competition to qualify for the AFC Champions League and AFC Cup.”

“But, after this competition, we play the Super Cup and nothing happens, nobody qualifies for the Asian competition and maybe the interest is less,” Marquez further spoke, suggesting that all competition can take place together similar to England or other European countries.

Joao Victor: There are many leaders

A huge credit for Hyderabad FC’s recent success goes to their captain Joao Victor. His leadership keeps the team performing consistently. However, the midfielder claims that there are more leaders in the team and there is still room for improvement. He said, “As I always say, being a captain is not a challenge for me.

“At Hyderabad FC, there is not just one leader in the team. There are many leaders and many experienced players who help the youngsters in the team. But we need to keep growing and keep improving as a team to fight for the title again.”

Nikhil Poojary on the return of the fans

One of the most influential Indian players at Hyderabad FC, Nikhil Poojary believes that seeing fans in the stands will be positive. He said in this regard, “It has been two difficult seasons. It is unfortunate that we won’t be playing at the Gachibowli Stadium for the first game, but the fans coming back to the stadium is a huge boost for us. Everyone is really excited, and we are ready for the new season.”

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