The referee has just blown the full-time whistle at the EMS stadium in Kozhikode, after 90 minutes of ATK Mohun Bagan and Hyderabad FC locking horns for a shot at the AFC Cup preliminary stage. A very animated Manolo Marquez, the HFC boss, walks onto the pitch and engages in a heated back-and-forth with Harish Kundu. The referee reaches into his pocket and waves the red card at the 54-year-old coach, who leaves the pitch, finding solace in the stands as he is flocked by fans of the game. His side goes on to lose the game on penalties, and their maiden opportunity to wave their badge on the continental stage.
It was a truly bittersweet ending for the man and the squad that he had built over the last three and a half years. Marquez is set to be followed by a host of his players from the team as the club can expect a revamp ahead of the 2023/24 season.
Hyderabad FC has become a force to be reckoned with in the Indian football fraternity for the past few years – lifting the Hero ISL Champions Trophy in the 2021-22 season in tremendous fashion by defeating Kerala Blasters FC in a penalty shootout.
As we understand, most of the foreign contingent won’t be part of their squad for the coming season and the majority of the important Indian contingent is also finding its way out of the highly admired Hyderabad FC team.
The man behind the resurrection of Hyderabad FC was only one name, Manolo Marquez Roca, who instilled belief and enthusiasm in a broken squad filled with players who were lacking confidence. But, he grew a sense of belongingness which paved the way to the foundation of a highly spirited group who always fought till the last minute to take the victory in each and every match. The way Roca built the squad with a blend of young blood and experience was astonishing with a limited budget when compared to other teams in the league. Much more than that, it was how the Indian players who were criminally unnoticed suddenly came into the fray becoming one of the best players in the country.
It was the Indian contingent of Hyderabad FC who surprised everyone with many players such as Chinglensana Singh, Mohammad Yasir, Aniket Jadhav, Akash Mishra, and Hitesh Sharma have made their way to the National team. This is certainly the best accomplishment a club can produce for the nation. Apart from that, Hyderabad FC has made its name in the transfer market by bringing best-suited foreign players for the team from lower division leagues. Players like Borja Herrera and Javier Siverio have made a name on the wishlist of top-quality players in the league who are criminally underrated for their performances.
This batch of Hyderabad FC will be remembered forever by everyone who will always cherish the brand of football that they played and the moments they displayed for the entire community of football fans across the country. Can Hyderabad sustain their football, if not their players, or is this the start of a transitioning phase?
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