In yet another Asian Champions League action, Manolo Marquez’s outfit won on penalties against Kerala Blasters.
On Sunday, the 2017-18 Indian Super League (ISL) title was decided in a tense final between Hyderabad FC and Kerala Blasters that had to be settled via a penalty shootout (3-1).
Manuel Manolo Marquez’s side produced a remarkable comeback to win the league title in their third season in the ISL.
FC Goa earned a place in the final of the Indian Super League by finishing second in the regular season. After overcoming ATK Mohun Bagan FC in the play-offs, Hyderabad won its first ISL title. In the end, they were behind with two minutes left in regulation time. Just as it appeared that it would be a night of failure, Sahil Tavora assisted the Nizams equalise and sent the game into extra time and a penalty shootout.
Penalty shootouts are a lottery. Nevertheless, Hyderabad FC had the best percentage of any team in the history of the ISL in penalty shootouts (71.4%). The Nizams were also the only team to not concede a goal from the spot in an ISL game. After Marquez’s men won on penalties, it was clear that they deserved to be crowned champions.
The reasons why Hyderabad won
Here are five reasons why Hyderabad FC won the 2021-22 Indian Super League title:
1) The best defence in the league:
Hyderabad FC had the best defensive record in the ISL this season, conceding just 18 goals in 26 games. They were also the only team to not concede a goal from the spot in an ISL game.
In order to succeed, they decided to sign players who had prior experience playing in the Indian Super League (ISL). Except for Siverio, all of their players were familiar with how a bio-bubble works in India and were used to the country’s soccer standard.
Last season, Joel Chianese and Joao Victor were with Hyderabad, while Bartholomew Ogbeche, an experienced striker who scores goals for fun in the ISL, and Juanan, a world-class defender who has shown his mettle over time, were added. Edu Garcia also had a hand in things and, like Khassa Camara before him, his replacement in Khassa Camara, who’d featured prominently at NorthEast United, didn’t let down.
2) A strong core:
The Nizams had a strong core of players who were with the team for two or three seasons. The likes of Adil Khan, Joel Chianese, Aridane Santana, and Lluis Sastre have been integral to the team’s success.
Hyderabad FC has a significant Indian contingent, which has aided them in their quest for the title. Laxmikant Kattimani, Asish Rai, Akash Mishra, Chinglengsana Singh, Aniket Jadhav, Mohammad Yasir, Nikhil Poojari, and Rohit Danu have all made significant contributions to their effort. These players have been consistent all season and have aided Marquez in building his teams around them and the foreigners.
Meanwhile, the likes of Sahil Tavora and Halicharan Narzary have carried on performing despite not playing much in order to keep their side alive.
3) An excellent coach:
Manolo Marquez is an excellent coach who knows how to get the best out of his players. He has instilled a winning mentality in the team and has helped them overcome difficult situations.
Given that he is media shy, Sharma is the Director of Football for Hyderabad FC. His painstaking behind-the-scenes efforts helped the club acquire top young players such as Akash Mishra, Ashish Rai, Aniket Jadhav, and Rohit Danu, among other things.
Sharma, who has spent close to two decades working in Indian football from various positions, is a well-known expert on Indian players that play at different levels and leagues. In a nutshell, he is a top scout, and his efforts have been an important ingredient in Hyderabad FC’s success. His experience has really shown through as he’ve assisted fill the team’s gaps and is now working on further developing their talent pipeline.
4) A never-say-die attitude:
Hyderabad FC have shown a never-say-die attitude under Marquez. They have come from behind to win on several occasions this season. This quality was on display in the final as well, as they equalised in the dying minutes of the game.
The Nigerian striker is a respected ISL veteran and has won the league in back-to-back years. Ogbeche has scored for every club he has represented, year after year.
He broke the record for Most Goals in a Season set by Ferran Corominas with 18 goals and equalled the feat of scoring in every game. He has flourished under a number of coaches, each of who utilised a different style but Ogbeche is a complete forward with good hunting skills, excellent aerial ability, and a powerful shot from distance.
In fact, he is ISL’s all-time leading goalscorer with 53 strikes to his name.
5) A settled team:
The Nizams have been a settled team throughout the season and have not made too many changes to their squad. This has helped them build chemistry and understanding on the pitch.
The team’s consistency has played a significant role in their progress. In 2020-21, they missed out on the play-offs by a whisker but the management retained faith in Marquez and kept him for another season. The Spaniard’s school had won over everyone in 2020-21, with only towards the end of the season did Hyderabad’s performance decline.
Under Marquez, several young players, including Ashish Mishra, Asish Rai, Joel Chianese, and Joao Victor, had shown promise. However, this time around instead of looking for a new coach, Hyderabad FC ensured continuity in the franchise by supporting him and assisting him in improving the squad. The Spaniard has overseen the club all the way to the title.
In conclusion, Hyderabad FC are deserved winners of the 2021-22 Indian Super League title. They were the best team throughout the season, and their victory was built on a strong foundation of hard work, dedication and quality football. History will remember them as one of the greatest teams in Indian football history.
Hyderabad FC’s victory in the final was a just reward for their excellent performance throughout the season. They were the best team in the league and deserved to be crowned champions.