Hyderabad, Mumbai gear up for decisive clash
Hyderabad: Hyderabad FC kick-off the crucial month of February with a show-stopping Indian Super League fixture this Saturday. HFC take on league leaders Mumbai City FC at the Mumbai Football Arena in a 5:30 pm kick-off in search of three crucial points in the race to the League Shield.
Hyderabad (2nd, 35 pts from 15 games) are fresh from a 2-0 victory over East Bengal two weeks back, while Mumbai City (1st, 42 pts from 16 games) beat Jamshedpur FC in a close encounter in the last round.
Des Buckingham’s side are currently unbeaten in the league and are breaking records in their challenge to the ISL shield this season. They have been clinical in front of goal, and stand as the best attack in the league scoring 47 goals in just 16 games.
Jorge Pereyra Diaz, who has nine goals to his name, is the leading goalscorer for MCFC so far this season and will be the danger man for Hyderabad. But the likes of Lallianzuala Chhangte, Greg Stewart, Bipin Singh and Alberto Noguera have also been ruthless and will prove to be a tough test for Hyderabad this weekend.
Speaking about this game, HFC Head Coach Manolo Marquez was all praises for his opponents. “We know we will face the best team in the competition in this game. They have a very good coach and really good players, both foreigners and Indian players and are one of the toughest teams to face,” said the Spaniard.
“They are a complete team, have been lucky with injuries and play with the same team every week, which helps. So, we are ready for a difficult game in Mumbai,” he added.
Hyderabad, who remain the last team to beat Mumbai in the league, have also been in fine form, dropping points in just one of their last seven games. Bartholomew Ogbeche, Javi Siverio, Mohammad Yasir, Halicharan Narzary, Joel Chianese and Borja Herrera have been effective in front of goal but it is the grit and determination at the back that has put them in a place to push Mumbai City for the ISL summit.
Hyderabad have conceded just nine goals in 16 games so far this season, standing as the best defense in the league. Odei Onaindia, Nim Dorjee Tamang, Nikhil Poojary and Akash Mishra have been formidable while Gurmeet Singh has also been impressive, helping HFC time and again to close out games.
Manolo Marquez believes that his side will fight for every ball and every point for the remainder of the season. “What our players are doing this season is not easy. This a tough league and it is not easy to win every game. We have difficult opponents for the rest of the season and we want to take it game by game,” said Manolo.
“Mumbai are a strong team and will want to win this game. But I am sure we will have our chances to take all three points as well,” added the Spaniard.
Hyderabad will still be without the services of Joao Victor and Laxmikant Kattimani, both of who are nursing long-term injuries. Mumbai City will miss the services of Ahmed Jahouh, who is suspended for accumulation of yellow cards.
The two teams played out a thrilling 3-3 draw in the opening league fixture for both sides in what was an entertaining game of football. But with plenty happening since then in the league, this clash could have a real bearing on the summit of the ISL points table.
The game kicks-off at 5:30 pm IST and will be telecasted live on the Star Sports Network with live streaming on Disney+ Hotstar and JioTV