Goa: Having marched back to winning ways in thumping fashion in their last league game, Hyderabad FC are back in action for the second time in four days when they take on Odisha FC at the Tilak Maidan in yet another crunching Indian Super League clash this Thursday.
Manolo Marquez’s men have now taken 20 points from their 12 games to stand at the top of the league table and will look to extend their lead at the summit this week. Odisha have 17 points from 12 games and could move into the top-4 with a positive result in this game.
Head Coach Kino Garcia, who is yet to be on the bench for Odisha, saw his team register four points in their last two games and will be high on confidence going into this clash. The likes of Aridai Cabrera, Javi Hernandez, Jerry Mawihmingthanga, Victor Mongil and Hector Rodas have all been in fine form this season and will be a big threat for the high-flying Hyderabad FC.
Odisha were on the receiving end of a 6-1 thumping from HFC in the reverse fixture earlier this season. But HFC Head Coach Manolo Marquez believes that the hosts will be better prepared this time around and will be a strong side to face on Thursday.
“If you remember that game, after they equalized, they had very clear chances to score the second goal. But fortunately for us, we scored our second just before half time. The third goal more or less finished the game,” said Manolo.
“Since that game, Odisha might have changed the coach but they more or less play with a similar style. They press a bit more than before but the wingers and the attackers still have a lot of quality. They have also gained a lot of confidence recently and will be a tough side to face in this game,” he added.
Bartholomew Ogbeche has set the league on fire, having scored the first ever perfect hat-trick the ISL has seen, in the previous game for Hyderabad. Bart along with Aniket Jadhav, Javi Siverio, Nikhil Poojary and Joel Chianese have formed a potent strike force to stand as the best attack in the league at the moment.
Joao Victor, who excelled in a center-back role in the last game, adds further strength at the back while the full-back pairing of Akash Mishra and Asish Rai has been impeccable so far this season. The form of Laxmikant Kattimani is also huge strength of this HFC side, who will look to put in a similar performance this time around as well.
But Manolo Marquez believes there are areas where his side can improve. “We should always look to improve. We are the team with most goals scored and also have the second-best defense. We are high on confidence after the last win but this is a totally different game and we are fully focused on it at the moment,” he added.
Hyderabad have one win and one loss in the two games they have played at the Tilak Maidan this season. But fresh off a 4-0 win at the same venue, they will look to build on that impressive performance this Thursday.
The game kicks off at 7:30 pm on Thursday and will be telecasted live on the Star Sports Network with live streaming on Disney+ Hotstar and JioTV.