‘We have to keep working hard for getting better’

Manolo Marquez discusses the challenges of the ISL, the upcoming Odisha game and more…

On the consecutive draws…

I think four of the last six Indian Super League games have ended in a draw. It is a very difficult league with equal competition. Every team can beat the other in this league and that is what makes the ISL exciting.

We were not at our best in the last game and we know we have to work on it. I don’t want to share excuses that we have injuries and had to put out youngsters. We have to be focused in every game and we believe that we can beat every team in the league.

In the last game, the opponents were using as much time as the referee allowed and for me, this shows that they respect us a team.

On the injury issues in the ISL…

In a competition like the ISL, you cannot play 20 games in less than four months so, the injuries that every team has faced is normal. In our case, we have a few injury issues with Indian players but none of them are muscle problems. Most of them have come about from bad tackles.

This is one of the reasons that every team has players missing with long injuries as well. But this is normal, and it is the same like last season. I think the ISL has to change a few things. We lose a lot of very good players like Rahul KP, Albino Gomes or Halicharan Narzary with long injuries and I think next season if the games are well spread out the injuries might not be such a big issue.

On the pressure of qualification…

I don’t believe we are favourites to qualify for the playoffs because we have one of the lowest budgets in the competition. But I know how football works and I know that after going so close last season the expectations are high.

I think if you are fighting till the end, wherever you finish, even just outside top-4 like for us last season, it is not a failure. For me, failure is when you don’t try. We are in a good position but we have to work hard on getting better.

On the pressure of the league table…

I don’t think we are under pressure. Pressure is when you’ve lost your job due to the pandemic. We would have liked to be with our families but we are playing the game we love. So, if you feel pressure, you cannot succeed in football. I know people talk a lot about pressure but for us, we try to play every game, win every game and if we don’t win, it is not because of the pressure.

Irrespective of our result on Tuesday, I don’t think the top-4 places will be decided till the final round of the fixtures this season. When you lose one game, you have to be angry and improve, but you need to keep calm as well. I think the team which is calm in the bad moments can go all the way this season.

On the defensive record this season…

If we get to be the team with the least goals conceded, we will surely qualify for the top-4. The ISL has seen a lot of goals this season but when you are a balanced team you have a chance to fight for every game.

As a spectator – scores like 5-4, 3-2 and goals late in the game – I like these kinds of games. But if you constantly conceded three, four goals, it kind of becomes a lottery. So we need to be strong in defence and at the moment we are working well, not just at the back but right from front.


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