Football

Manuel Marquez’s contract extension at Hyderabad FC a positive development for young Indian talent

Hyderabad FC management deserves all the praises for extending the Spanish coach’s stay at the club…

When Manuel Marquez took over Hyderabad as their head coach there was uncertainty. The club had managed to build a squad with promise but they were a ship without a captain. 

Former Bengaluru FC coach Albert Roca was initially appointed as the head coach of the club at the beginning of the season but in August the Spaniard had to leave the project after he got a more lucrative offer to join Ronaldo Koeman’s coaching staff as a fitness coach at FC Barcelona. 

Hyderabad were recovering from a nightmare of a debut season were they finished at the rock bottom position on the league table and with Roca at the helm, they were looking to turn things around. But with the Spaniard’s departure, the club was in haywire. 

In came Manuel Marquez Roca, a coach with a vast experience of working in various divisions in Spain and most notable experience being managing Las Palmas in La Liga. Thus, Marquez had the pedigree but there was always an air of doubt considering he had come in at short notice.

The 52-year-old coach inherited a squad full of young Indian players and some promising foreign signings. The job was always tough for the new coach considering he was handling a bunch of youngsters and also that he would hardly get time for proper pre-season in a pandemic-affected campaign. 

However, after 17 games, Hyderabad find themselves on the brink of making it to the play-offs. 

Marquez has done a fantastic job of building and improving confidence among his young Indian players. 18-year-old left-back Akash Mishra, who had joined the club in the summer after playing just a season for Indian Arrows in the I-League 2019-20 season, was entrusted with the responsibility of a left-back since day one. Marquez’s trust has so far paid off as Mishra has been one of the best performing Indian defenders in this Indian Super League (ISL). 

Along with Mishra, another player who improved leaps and bounds is right-back, Asish Rai. Rai had played in 14 ISL matches last season but it was only under Marquez that he has blossomed. 

Youngsters like Mohammed Yasir and Liston Colaco have been real revelations. Marquez has to be credited for the way he handled Colaco this season. The Goan winger is a fantastic talent, one for the future but the Spanish coach used him cleverly to good effect.

Joel Chianese, Hyderabad FC

Also, due to injury and fitness concerns, the Spanish coach hardly got to avail the services of his full foreign contingent in the season. Except for Odei Onaindia (17 matches), skipper Aridane Santana (16 matches) and Joao Victor (14 matches) none of the foreign players played more than 10 matches. The club also didn’t fill their full foreigner players quota until the January window they finally managed to sign their seventh foreigner, Dutch midfielder Roland Alberg.

Experienced Spanish forward Fran Sandaza could only start playing for the club after the sixth round due to injury problems and Lluis Sastre and Joel Chianese had injury scares for nearly the entirety of the season. Despite all the tough challenges in his debut season in India, the Spaniard has managed to get results playing good football and have kept the team in the hunt for a play-offs spot. 

The biggest achievement of the Spaniard has been unearthing raw Indian talents and giving game time to relatively new names. Also, players like Halicharan Narzary and Hitesh Sharma found form under the Spaniard’s tutelage.

Manuel Marquez seemingly has a clear vision for Hyderabad FC and the management will be happy that the manager signed a two-year extension. From the look of things, it might prove to be extremely beneficial for the future of the club as well as Indian football.

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