Indian Super League, Round 1
Manolo Marquez started his Indian Super League journey with a hard-fought win over Odisha FC. While Aridane’s penalty was enough to separate the teams, there were a number of other positives for us to take from the game.
First clean sheet
This match against Odisha FC goes down in the history book for Hyderabad FC. It was the first time the club managed to keep a clean sheet in 19 ISL games to date. Subrata Paul also extended his lead at the top of the clean-sheets list for the ISL. This was his 27th shut-out in the competition. The custodian was strongly supported by our defenders in guarding the fort. In fact, our keeper had quite a relaxed day at office, waiting until the 40th minute to make his first save against Odisha striker Manuel Onwu.
We got the first glimpse of our star signing, Aridane Santana. The big Number 9 who picked up the ‘Hero of the Match’, was easily the difference in the performances of the two teams yesterday.
Prior to the game, there was much anticipation around the switch between Aridane and Marcelinho. While the Odisha attacker was substituted at the 53rd minute, Aridane made a difference throughout the game with his deadly headers, creative passes and defensive contributions.
He looked dangerous right from the start when he almost headed home in the 5th minute of the game. His pass to Halicharan Narzary at the edge of the box led to Hali’s shot that was met by Odisha skipper Steven Taylor’s hand. This won us a penalty and Aridane made no mistake in slotting the goal home from 12 yards out.
Our Indian players, Halicharan Narzary, Akash Mishra, Asish Rai, Hitesh Sharma and Mohammed Yasir, were heavily involved in the action. Hali not only won us a penalty but also took some threatening shots at the Odisha goal. His closest attempt came just minutes before the half-time whistle where his curled shotwas tipped over the bar by the outstretched arm of the Odisha keeper. The attack was made more creative with Mohammad Yasir’s dribbling genius. He also made some great passes to assist his teammates. They were facilitated by youngster Hitesh Sharma who effectively controlled our midfield for the night.
Young gun, Akash Mishra was a huge impact maker on his Indian Super League debut. Apart from his neat runs, dangerous strikes and defensive blocks, Mishra also made a crucial goal-saving tackle when he intercepted Nandhakumar Sekar’s attempt to equalize. The defence was strengthened with the help of Asish Rai who recorded the highest number of tackles in the match.
The introduction of Liston Colaco and Danmawia Ralte was a smart move by Manolo. Pace in attack caused Odisha all sorts of problems and both the wide-man made real inroads in the last quarter of the game. It gave us a chance to close the game out.
Liston, in fact, made a greater impact. Playing alongside Aridane, the young forward ran with speed and purpose at a fatigued Odisha backline and caused trouble by winning foul after foul for us. He almost produced a moment of magic in the 67th minute with his solo run but could not find the finish.