‘We are surely going to give our best to make our fans proud’

Defender Odei Onaindia is named HFC’s ‘Player of the Month’ for January

Hyderabad FC have put an ordinary debut season in the Indian Super League behind them and are now right in the mix for a place in the top-4 in the 2020-21 league campaign. There have been plenty of consistent performances from players all around the field, but one player that has gone under the radar is defender Odei Onaindia.

The 31-year-old joined Hyderabad at the start of the season and has since been a mainstay in the Starting XI for Manolo Marquez’s side. His performances helped his side get through a seven-match January unbeaten and unsurprisingly, he was voted the ‘Player of the Month’ by the HFC faithful for his efforts.

“I am really happy for this recognition from the club and the fans in Hyderabad. These things give players a lot of confidence and I am thankful for this gesture,” said Odei, speaking about winning the ‘Player of the Month’ award.

“However, I believe that every player in our team deserves as much praise as any one of us could have won this accolade after the month we had,” he added.

Forming a solid partnership at the back with the young Chinglensana Singh, Odei has helped his side to five clean sheets so far. Apart from the game where he was subbed off when his side were chasing from two goals down against Bengaluru, Odei has played every minute of the league campaign and has been impeccable with his defensive duties.

His ability to cover for his teammates allows the likes of Asish Rai to add some attacking flair from the full-back role. Sana, a player trying to break into the Indian national side, also has learnt a lot from him throughout this season.

“It has been a treat to learn from a player like Odei. He is calm, is really smart and good to talk to on and off the field. During a game, he helps, not just me, but everyone in the team to stay calm and that has been important in our run so far this season,” said Sana.

Odei’s passing accuracy of over 84%, having completed 570 passes this season, is right up there with the best in the league. This has not only helped Manolo stick to a particular style of play but has also made sure that his side are on the front foot, looking to attack, even when the forward line is not in great form.

“Odei has been a great addition to our team. He is a very good, smart defender, is fast, strong and is a great player to have in my side,” said Head Coach Manolo Marquez, speaking about his No. 16.

A smart defender, who thrives on his positioning, the Athletic Bilbao Academy graduate has shown great understanding of the game. Up against the best strikers in the league, he rarely ever loses a duel, is quick to spot danger and instills confidence in the entire squad, that has been evident in their performances this season.

Manolo Marquez also believes that Odei is one of the best defenders in the league at the moment. “I really enjoy training him everyday and for me, his controlled aggression and the way he reads the game makes him one of the best center-backs in the ISL,” said the Spanish coach.

“I am really happy, that in this crucial moment, he is showing the quality that he has from his time in Spain,” Manolo added.

In the 15 games so far, he has given away just 13 fouls, which is a remarkable achievement for a central defender. He also has seen just one booking in 1,345 minutes of league action, and his discipline has been crucial to Hyderabad FC’s form in the current campaign.

28 tackles, 19 interceptions, and 63 clearances are evidence of his all-round ability and surely, he will be key to HFC’s chances of qualification at the end of this month.

“At the moment, we are positive of our chances to finish in the top-4,” said Odei. “We know we need to work hard for it. In a season like this, qualification can go down till the end but we are surely going to do our best to make our fans proud and go as far as we can,” the defender added.

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