3. Hitesh Sharma
“Hitesh is a really smart player, who understands the game very well. He has a great attitude, is calm in possession and always seems to know to do the correct thing at every moment. I am sure he will grow into a better player next season as well”. This is what Hyderabad FC’s coach Manuel Marquez had to say about Hitesh Sharma. Hitesh, like many of his fellow HFC players, has had a great season with Hyderabad FC this year. The 23-year old has appeared in 15 of the 20 matches Hyderabad FC have played this season. An attacking midfielder by trade, Hitesh is a good passer of the ball with a consistent passing accuracy of 72% throughout the season. He does not have any direct goal contributions but that does not take away the fact Hitesh has been pivotal for HFC this season.
Hitesh, as described by Manuel, is an intelligent footballer who understands the game. He is a player with good technical ability and always has an eye for a pass. His intelligent movement allows him to create spaces behind midfielders and create chances in the final third. His consistent performances have earned him a call-up to the national squad for the international friendlies. Hitesh might also don the role of a number 10 or an attacking midfielder for India with injuries to Brandon and Sahal.
2. Akash Mishra
A few eyebrows were raised, when 18-year old Akash Mishra, playing his 1st ISL season, was named in the starting 11 for Hyderabad FC’s first game of the ISL-2020/21. 20 matches, 1800 minutes and 121 days later, young Akash has established himself as an Indian Football team player. The 19-year-old full back has had a sensational season with Hyderabad FC. Signed from Indian Arrows, Akash has overcome all odds and risen to become the best left back of ISL this season. Akash has played every minute of Hyderabad FC’s season and that is a testament to the trust that Manuel Marquez has on this youngster. Akash has played 827 passes (2nd amongst Indians), has had 1250 touches (2nd amongst Indians and 6th overall) and has 55 interceptions (3rd in the league) in this year’s ISL. He also has 48 clearances and 37 blocks to his name.
Perhaps, unlucky to miss out on the Emerging Player of the year award, Akash has been the brightest spark for Hyderabad FC this season. Like fellow full back Asish Rai, Akash possesses great energy and pace. Just like a modern full back, Akash is never scared to venture forward and put crosses into the box. His pace and energy allow him to move up and down on the left flank and this has contributed to HFC’s success this season. The attack minded Akash has also proved himself as an able defender, blocking multiple crosses by the opposition from his flank. After a memorable 1st season, Akash would be hoping to continue this rich vein of form for India in the upcoming international matches. Indian football fans are right to be excited about this kid, because for Akash, Sky is the limit.