Manolo Marquez’s men face a tough challenge in search of consistency to start the second half of the season
Panaji, Goa: Hyderabad FC will look to build on their winning form when they take on league leaders Mumbai City FC in their first clash of the second leg of Indian Super League fixtures this season. They face the Islanders on Saturday night, at the GMC Athletic Stadium in Bambolim, looking to keep their top-4 hopes alive.
Sergio Lobera’s side became the first team to beat HFC, when they won 2-0 in the reverse fixture earlier this season, thanks to goals from Vignesh Dakshinamurthy and Adam Le Fondre. Mumbai City have faced just one defeat in their 10 games and are currently atop the standings with 25 points on board.
“Mumbai City have a lot of good players, a really smart coach and they play as a team. Like I said before, they have everything to be the champions of the league phase at the end of the season,” HFC Head Coach Manolo Marquez said speaking to the press, ahead of this game.
Mumbai City have been one of the most consistent sides in the league this season, picking up eight victories in their 10 games. They are the top goal-scorers in the league with 17 goals, just two ahead of Hyderabad, and also have the joint best defence alongside ATK Mohun Bagan, half-way through the campaign.
Le Fondre (6) and Bartholomew Ogbeche (4) have scored 10 goals between them. The likes of Hernan Santana (2), Hugo Boumous, Bipin Singh, Rowllin Borges and Mourtada Fall have also been exceptional this season, having chipped in with a goal each.
Manolo believes that Mumbai City have a strong squad and can beat any team on their day. Meanwhile, Hyderabad, who are placed 3rd in the league for goals scored this season, failed to score against Mumbai City in the previous round. But they have seen their fortunes change since the turn of the year.
HFC have now picked up back-to-back wins against Chennaiyin and NorthEast while scoring eight goals in those games. The likes of Liston Colaco, Joel Chianese and Halicharan Narzary have found form in front of goal while the likes of Aridane Santana and Joao Victor have been crucial to their run so far this season.
The backline of Chinglensana Singh, Odei Onaindia, Akash Mishra and Asish Rai have all been consistent enough, but have a big test ahead of them on Saturday.
“(Nikhil) Poojary and Fran (Sandaza) are still out with an injury,” revealed Manolo, when asked about the players that will miss this game. “Souvik Chakrabarti will also not be available,” he added.
Mumbai beat their closest competitors in ATKMB in their last game while Hyderabad put in a solid performance to beat NorthEast United over a week ago. This clash, between two of the best attacks in the league, promises to be a thriller.
“We know that we are about to face one of the strongest sides in the competition. But we, as a team, believe that winning or losing a game depends on our own performance on the night and we are ready to give our best on Saturday,” the Head Coach added, talking about how his side will approach this game.
The game kicks off at 7:30 pm on Saturday and will be telecasted live on the Star Sports Network with live streaming on Disney+ Hotstar and JioTV.