Indian Super League club Hyderabad FC will begin the 2021-22 season with a largely positive frame of mind on the back of a pretty decent 2020-21 season wherein they came 5th on the league table.
The club was the joint highest when it came to draws in the season and that is something they will look to convert into wins under the tutelage of coach Manolo Marquez, who will be in his second season at the club.
90min India had the chance to have a conversation with Marquez regarding the upcoming Indian Super League campaign among many other things.
Below are various questions that the coach answered in his exclusive interview with us:
Q: What do you make of HFC's performance last season and is there anything different we can expect from your team this season?
Manolo Marquez: The last season was very good for Hyderabad FC. We had problems with injuries to overseas players but the young Indian players showed their great level. But it is a mistake if we compare two different seasons. We have to continue working and improving in every training session.
Q. The club made some new signings this summer, have they settled in well and what is your first impression of them?
Manolo Marquez: Every team changes a few players after every season. We tried to keep the best players but that is not always possible when you are building a team. We looked for players in particular positions that we needed and the style of play we want for our team. We are satisfied with the squad that we have the for the next ISL season.
Q. How are your preparations for the 2021-22 season going on?
Manolo Marquez: The pandemic changed all the world but the second wave in India was very hard. For this reason, the gap is very big and it is difficult to prepare the teams after 6-7 months without competitions and you don't know if a long pre-season is better or a normal one. If you look how at the pre-seasons of the different teams every team chose a different way. Everyone is trying to do the best but we are happy with our preparations.
Q. Your message to the Hyderabad FC fans ahead of the 2021-22 season?
Manolo Marquez: My message for the fans is always very similar. Football without them is less football. We promise that they will be proud of our players. We will fight for every ball, will try to play good games for them and get victories. All of us receive a lot of messages from them and we feel their support constantly.
Q. You have been here at the club for some time now, what are your thoughts on the Indian youngsters coming through from HFC's academy?
Manolo Marquez: Hyderabad FC and the owners, Varun Tripuraneni specially, wants that Hyderabad FC is a reference in India. Then you need to build a club from the kids to the first team. This needs time but we saw in the Durand Cup that if we work with enthusiasm and knowledge all is possible. Some players show their qualities and for this reason some of them are in Goa with the first team. Step by step HFC will be a very important club in India.
Q. You have vast managerial experience all over the world - how do you think Indian football can improve?
Manolo Marquez: If you want to improve you need a shorter gap between seasons and the chain: children who play in street, more academies with good coaches, better nutrition, better grounds – These are all very important. It is improving in the country fast but still needs time. But on the other side, if India gets all these things right, they can be a potentially strong country in Asia.
Q. Thoughts on the Indian Super League as a football league and its future?
Manolo Marquez: If you compare the level of Indian players in ISL 1 with ISL 7, it is obvious that the improvement is very important. When Covid finishes, India will have a more competitive Championship and the number of teams will grow. We know that there are sports with more tradition than football in India but when some club or the National team get important results, a lot of kids will start to play football. Then everything will be faster and the evolution will be evident.
Hyderbad FC will start their 2021-22 Indian Super League season with a clash against Chennaiyin FC on November 23 at 7:30pm.