Hyderabad FC have scored a mere six goals this season in the Indian Super League (ISL) from their five matches. They are one of the two sides, alongwith Bengaluru FC, to be unbeaten, they are yet to hit top gear especially when it comes to goal scoring.
In fact, they did score three in their last game against East Bengal – a team which has the joint worst defensive record in the league.
Coach Manuel Marquez explained that converting goalscoring opportunities is the most difficult job. He also highlighted that they are certainly improving in this department and threw some statistics to back his claim.
“This is the most difficult in football. If we had (more) top scorers, maybe by now we would have been at the top of the table. We are not a small team but we have to work in every training session and it's not easy. If you look at the statistics of the last game, we had eight shots on target which is a very good number but we have to improve (convert chances) in these situations.
“There are 20 games in the championship. Last week the question was, after three draws, if I am worried. Now, after a win, the question is if we lose tomorrow against Mumbai City. We have to be prepared for Mumbai and after Mumbai the same thing for Kerala (Blasters),” said Marquez.
The Spaniard was quick to hail Mumbai City FC, a team which is co-owned by Ciity Football Group (CFG) and coached by Sergio Lobera. He believes that the Mumbai outfit can go on to win the League Shield and book their berth in the esteemed AFC Champions League. He spoke of his team’s chances and that if they stick to their plan and perform, they can win three points against Mumbai City.
“Mumbai City is the favourite team to win the regular season but of course, with a championship with play-offs it's impossible to say who will win the play-offs. Their team (Mumbai City) has a lot of quality and a top coach (Sergio Lobera). They are good with the ball and good with set-pieces. This will be one of the more difficult games that we will be playing this season.
“We will have possibilities to win the game. We can win or lose with all the teams, depending on our performance. Quality of the opponent is different. We watched the videos of Mumbai. They are a team who want to keep the ball like us. We will see who has the ball more and when they have the ball, we have to be prepared to defend very well but the preparations are more or less the same,” he mentioned.
The Islanders have scored nine goals from six matches and are coming into the tie on the back of a disappointing 1-1 draw against Jamshedpur where they played against 10-men for over an hour and still couldn’t get the winner.
Marquez reiterated that despite Mumbai’s qualities, his team will have their chances to clinch three important points and move up on the ISL table.
“They score in different ways – set-pieces, counterattack, penalty, build up. They even scored one goal from the goalkeeper's kick. We have a difficult game because the opponent has a lot of qualities
“In the last game, Mumbai didn't get to score against Jamshedpur even with one extra man but you know how football is. Of course, we will have a difficult game tomorrow and we will see what will happen but I'm sure we will have our chance to win the game.”
The Nizams have three draws this season and Marquez reasoned that picking a point is certainly better than suffering a defeat and that if you complement it with a win in the following game, overall it paints a good picture for the team.
“Sometimes draws are better than a loss. If you win, the (previous) draws look better than a loss but if you lose a game after three consecutive draws, people think maybe the draws were not good. Sometimes, if you cannot score, I prefer to draw. Of course, sometimes you have to take a risk to have more possibilities to win,” he explained.
He, however, acknowledged that his team needs to improve on several fronts and that would take time.
“We are very happy with the performance of the team. We have to improve a lot of things. After five games, we have two wins and three draws. Sometimes you think that the score was not fair but for me it's important, even if you concede two goals to turn the game around, because the mentality of the team is growing day-by-day.”