Hyderabad FC head coach Manolo Marquez admitted ATK Mohun Bagan has momentum on their side but feels they are a tough team to beat before their all-important first-leg semifinal at the G.M.C. Balayogi Athletic Stadium, Hyderabad on Thursday.
ATK Mohun Bagan has won their last three matches and they have peaked at the right time. On the other hand, Hyderabad FC has won two out of their last three games, including a 1-0 win against ATK Mohun Bagan in the league stage.
Both teams had won against one another by 1-0 in the league stage and it is expected to be a nail-biting contest. In fact, Hyderabad FC had beaten the Mariners by 3-1 (3-2 on aggregate) in the first-leg semifinal in the previous season.
The Spaniard said his team will look to replicate the previous year’s performance against Juan Ferrando’s team.
“Every team that has reached the semi-final will try to reach the final, and we play the semi-final like we did last season. Let’s see if we get to qualify for the final of the Hero ISL the same as last season,” Marquez said in the official pre-match press conference.
Meanwhile, Hyderabad FC finished in second place in the previous season behind Jamshedpur FC but the Nizams were able to go all the way in the tournament, beating Kerala Blasters FC by 3-1 on penalties.
“Last season, we had a very good campaign and had the chance to win the Shield. We had a bit of bad luck, but then we went on to win the Hero ISL title. We were clinical back then, and we will look to replicate the same style this season to reach the final. Anything can happen in the knockout rounds. ATK Mohun Bagan are in a better momentum than when they played against us in Hyderabad but we are a very good team as well, and we are a very difficult team to beat” the Spaniard said.
Both Hyderabad FC and ATK Mohun Bagan have been spot on in their respective defense as they have conceded 16 and 17 goals respectively in the league stage.
“Theoretically it seems like that (low-scoring match), even if you see the knockout games in the last few days, it was a tight game and we and ATKMB are the teams who conceded very few goals in the league stage. But football is (unpredictable) so it may be a game with four or five goals. But theoretically not too many goals would be in the game,” Marquez commented.
The gaffer wants the Hyderabad fans to turn up in numbers and support their team in the big semifinal clash.
“I would like the stadium to be full. I know that is very difficult because people who know the game said that after recovering from Covid, there are less people in the stadiums. But in this kind of (semi-final) game, it has to be practically full and I always repeat the same that we are very grateful to the people who are coming to the stadium. If we want that football to grow in this city, Hyderabad FC need to continue with this line and try to always arrive at the top level and to fight for the titles,” he concluded.