‘We have a lot of hard work ahead of us’

HFC’s Player of the Month for December, Akash Mishra’s season so far…

Fast-growing into one of the most exciting youngsters to watch in the Indian Super League, Hyderabad FC full-back Akash Mishra has been crucial to his side’s run in the league this season.

The 19-year-old, who joined the club before the start of the season from Indian Arrows, has been immaculate with his defensive duties, 15 games into the season. His consistency has already been rewarded with the club’s ‘Player of the Month’ award for December 2020 but it is clear, that this is just the start.

“I thank my team-mates and the fans for showing confidence in me. But this is my first season in the ISL and I know that I have a lot of areas I need to improve on,” said Mishra, after winning the POTM award.

“I have also learnt a lot from the coach. Sticking to my strengths and trusting my teammates is crucial for me and I hope to grow stronger and help my team reach our targets for the season.”

Having started every league game, Mishra has 950+ touches of the ball, the second most for his side in this time. He has also completed 640+ passes, just two less than Asish Rai, who leads this stat for Hyderabad FC. But the fact that he has an average passing accuracy of 67.8% shows that he is usually useful with his passes as well.

Overcoming a kick to his face and cut under his eye in the space of 50 days, Mishra has not missed a single minute of the 2020-21 league campaign. In this time, he helped his side keep five clean sheets, but that is hardly the highlight of his season.

The youngster has made just 21 fouls all season, at just over a foul per game and has picked up only two yellow cards. His discipline and ability to read the game has made an assured Hyderabad backline even stronger.

“Manolo Marquez constantly reminds us to trust our abilities. He wants us to be disciplined, not give away too many fouls and that has helped me a lot in this season,” revealed Mishra, about his approach to defending.

Mishra also registered 42 interceptions, 32 clearances and 56 tackles, to add to 25 blocks, a few of which were right under the bar. Notably against Odisha, the No. 31 pulled out three goal-line clearances, to earn his side a point in a crucial juncture of the season.

He has shown that he can be effective at the other end as well, registering four shots on target and also picking up an assist with 30 crosses in his 15 games. At just 19, he has already shown that he does not shy away from responsibility at the back and is going to be important for Hyderabad FC’s chances of qualification.

But top-4 qualification is not on their minds now, says Mishra. “Right now, we are not thinking too far ahead. We have five games in hand and our qualification to the top-4 completely depends on our results, which is really good.”

“So, we are taking it one game at a time and we know that we have a lot of hard work ahead of us. Hopefully, we can make the fans proud, come the end of the season,” the 19-year-old added.

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