The co-owner of the Nizams spoke highly of the youngsters in the team who are performing well this season.
The 2020-21 season of the Indian Super League (ISL) has been a breakthrough one for a lot of youngsters. Liston Colaco, Akash Mishra, Asish Rai and Chinglensana Singh are obviously leading the bandwagon at Hyderabad FC. In an insightful discussion on Khel Now’s Beyond The Scores podcast, the Nizams’ co-owner Varun Tripuraneni explained the club’s recruitment policy and the thought process behind working with youngsters.
He says, the work had begun right from the January transfer window of last season. “There was a bit of a lack of experience (in the squad last season). We had Adil (Khan), who obviously had a lot of experience, playing not just for different clubs but also the national team.”
He went on to add, “We also had some youngsters coming through the ranks like Asish, (Mohammad) Yasir, Abhisek Haldar, Sahil Panwar. Due to the injuries last season, they got many more starts than planned, which worked actually well for us.”
Despite the horde of youngsters, the club felt there was a need to bring in some experienced faces in the squad. That is what paved the way for the likes of Subrata Paul and Souvik Chakrabarti, who were some of the first signings made by the outfit.
To add some more balance to the squad, Varun Tripuraneni also spoke highly of the foreigners that the club brought in. “Now that the games are played without spectators, you can hear the foreigners encouraging young players. Aridane (Santana) is one of them, who plays a great role on the pitch. He was one player who, we thought will be very important for us. Obviously, he had worked with Thangboi (Singto) earlier at Odisha FC and he was extremely positive about it.”
But, the credit of their youngsters’ progress this season also goes to head coach Manolo Marquez. Despite coming in at the eleventh hour and with little knowledge of the Indian players, the Spaniard has done a remarkable job so far. Tripuraneni, too, had words of praise for the tactician and said, “He’s settled in well. Although we haven’t had face-to-face interactions, there is that calmness about him that shows his experience. The way he has worked with the youngsters is terrific; we couldn’t have asked for more.”
With all the talk about young players impressing, there is one in particular who has earned a lot of plaudits for his exploits on the pitch – Liston Colaco. The 22-year-old tends to set the pitch ablaze with his drifting runs, ambitious long-range attempts and moore. The Goan lad is someone the fans of Indian football have been yearning to watch.
Having scored twice and delivered three assists, Colaco has grabbed the attention of many and is already making a case for a national team call-up. Varun Tripuraneni explained how the club managed to catch hold of the sensational young forward from FC Goa last season. “Not getting the game-time at Goa was perhaps the tipping point for him. He really felt he needed to go to a club where he gets the opportunities,” he began.
“Also, we not having a great season at the point, we knew we needed some freshers in the squad. So, game-time was a crucial factor that made him realize that it was something he will get at Hyderabad FC.”
The co-owner also pointed out how Sujay Sharma, the club’s Director of Football had a role to play in Colaco’s signing. Moreover, he explained how the club always knew the talent that the attacker possessed. “I saw Liston play in the Santosh Trophy back when I was at Kerala Blasters. It was the semi-final between Kerala and Goa and Liston probably scored a hat-trick,” he recalled.
“I’m really happy that he is delivering. It’s one thing when you know you have the talent and you’re doing well in training. But, to actually get the right performances is key,” added Varun Tripuraneni, while describing the forward’s spectacular brace against NorthEast United.
He also had a few words of praise for the other young lads in the team, saying, “Even the other youngsters like Akash, Asish, Yasir, Hitesh (Sharma) have done extremely well. Sana, too, was lacking game-time at FC Goa and the only start he made last season was against us. He even won the Hero of the Match award for that game.”
“I’m happy they’ve made the best use of the opportunities they’ve got. Hoping, we have a lot more pushing the selectors for national team spots,” concluded Varun Tripuraneni.