Panaji: Hyderabad FC will play consecutive home games for the first time this season, as they welcome table-toppers Mumbai City FC to the Tilak Maidan in Vasco, on Sunday. It will be the first of two games on the double-Header Sunday as HFC will aim to continue their unbeaten run of the campaign.
Sergio Lobera’s Islanders started the season with a loss over NorthEast United but have since registered four wins and a draw, the latter coming against Jamshedpur in the last round. Mumbai, who have 13 points on board after six games, are at top of the table alongside ATK Mohun Bagan (13 pts) and will be a dangerous side to be up against.
“Mumbai City FC are, for me, one of the favourites to top the league this season. They have a good coach, and a quality squad. They are smart with and without the ball, and are also dangerous in set-pieces. This is surely one of the more difficult games that we will play this season,” said Manuel Marquez, speaking to the press, ahead of this clash.
Lobera, who only took over Mumbai City at the start of the season, has already got his to side play some impressive football. The likes of Rowllin Borges, Adam le Fondre, Ahmed Jahouh, Hugo Boumous and Bartholomew Ogbeche have all put in match-winning performances in the first few games of the campaign.
To add to it, Hernan Santana, Mourtada Fall and even Amrinder Singh in the goal are also banging in form and will fight for all three points in this game. However, Marquez believes his side will have opportunities to win the game on Sunday.
“They are a really dangerous side. They can score in different ways, are strong in set-pieces, can create chances from open play and are also a real threat in counterattacks. But in the end, it is a game of football and anything can happen on the night,” added Marquez.
Hyderabad FC, have now picked up nine points from their first five games after they came from behind to win 2-3 win over SC East Bengal in the last round. They are one of just two teams left in the competition yet to lose a game but need a strong performance to get past a quality MCFC side.
Speaking about the composition of his squad for this game, Marquez said, “We have not been lucky with injuries but that has made sure that the level of other players is on the rise, which is fantastic for the club.”
“I am happy to train these guys everyday but it is important for this group of players to know that they will get their chances,” he added.
Only Mumbai City (3 – level with ATKMB) have conceded fewer goals than Hyderabad FC (4) and this game could well be the battle of the backlines. But more importantly, both teams have created loads of chances and will be ready to take on the opponents, and could provide for an exciting watch, even for the neutral.
“For me, the most important thing is to win the game. But to win, sometimes you have to take risks in big games and that could be crucial for us against Mumbai City,” he added.