Manolo Marquez – We are focused on the game against FC Goa and not the playoffs

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Hyderabad FC finds themselves placed at the top of the table with 29 points (8 wins and 5 draws) from 16 matches to their tally. The eight matches won by them are the most they have managed in a single season. The Nizams have emerged as a dominating force this season. Hyderabad FC defeated Bengaluru FC by a 2-1 scoreline in their last game. Their hard work and patience in the past seasons have perhaps started bearing fruits. Manolo Marquez has been a blessing in disguise to the side.

The Spaniard will surely be looking forward to keeping his team’s position fixated at their current place since ATK Mohun Bagan are just behind them with similar points but a worse goal difference. With the race to top four getting closer with every game, table toppers Hyderabad FC look to consolidate their position at the top and inch closer to the knockouts. The three points from their match against Goa are crucial given the tough road ahead.

Meanwhile, this hasn’t been the best of seasons for Derrick Pereira’s men. The Gaurs find themselves in the ninth position of the table. The team has been affected by the Covid virus yet again. However, if FC Goa salvages a victory in this encounter, they’ll step a spot higher in the ladder. FC Goa have 18 points (4 wins and 6 draws) from the 17 matches they have played. They still have a slim, mathematical chance of qualifying for the semi-final despite their realistic hopes ended when they lost 2-0 against ATK Mohun Bagan in their last match.

Manolo Marquez - We are focused on the game against FC Goa and not the playoffs FLXxdaEakAAz3yo

Hyderabad FC head coach Manolo Marquez Roca addressed the media in the pre-match press conference ahead of the game against FC Goa on Saturday, 19th February at the GMC Athletic Stadium in Bambolim, Goa. Below are his excerpts from the same.

While FC Goa are finding it difficult in the race for the top four finish, do you think this is a good time for Hyderabad FC to play against them and consolidate their top position?

“I think that every game is very difficult and against FC Goa, it will be the same. After yesterday’s match where Jamshedpur won against Mumbai City FC, mathematically FC Goa can still arrive [in the top four] because they will have Mumbai and then Kerala to play against. It’s impossible even if they get the nine points, they can’t arrive in the top four, but of course, they will want to finish, if it’s possible, seventh or sixth, or in the best position possible. It will be a difficult game just how all the other games have been.”

Given FC Goa’s recent performances, what threats do you expect from them on Saturday night?

“FC Goa faced a problem when their former coach (Juan Ferrando) left the team abruptly and they’ve faced several difficult problems since then. FC Goa are the more damaged team in the ISL. When they had positive cases, ISL did not allow them to cancel the games. Then they had the issue of the head coach leaving suddenly.

I agree with Bedia (Edu) when he said some days back that FC Goa is one of the strongest teams in the league. They faced several problems together that they couldn’t surpass and this is the reason that they are in this situation. But if you look at the squad of FC Goa, they have one of the best squads in the ISL, without a doubt.”

Manolo Marquez - We are focused on the game against FC Goa and not the playoffs FL25vTvaAAAQFkV

What are the concerns that you see in your squad before heading into the crucial final stages of the league?

“It’s very difficult to say that we need four, five, six, or seven points because we need to be focusing on the Goa game because every day, there are a lot of games, even head-to-head. There are five-six teams, and Bengaluru FC is still in the fight. It’s very difficult to say we need a certain number of points. But then we have to be focused. There are six teams and four places, there are teams with more games, another team with fewer games.

“As I said earlier, it’s not always about the table. We are still on the top, after I don’t know how many days, but of course, if you don’t play your game in every match, the opponents will get closer. So, the only thing we can say to the players is to take each game step-by-step, focus on FC Goa, and when we finish the game, even if we win, draw, or lose the game, our focus will be on the next game.”

How does Hyderabad FC’s new signing Khassa Camara fit into your plans? What contribution do you expect him to bring in, in the following games?

“When Edu Garcia left the team, we had this possibility, Hyderabad offered me this option, and in another situation, I think that we would finish only with five foreigners and at this moment we have Juanan and Joao (Victor) with three yellow cards. We had the possibility to sign Khassa Camara, a player who knows ISL perfectly.

“I think it’s only four games and we hope for the semi-finals too but at least four games he can contribute to the team. Let’s see if he will play tomorrow, if he will be on the bench, in the starting lineup, or out of the squad because he had to be in quarantine. But of course, we know him, he’s a very good player in the ISL and for us too.”

Manolo Marquez - We are focused on the game against FC Goa and not the playoffs u5bCFItMWq

As the team gets closer to making it to the semi-finals, how important is tomorrow’s match against Goa with the likes of Jamshedpur FC, Kerala Blasters FC, and ATK Mohun Bagan right there in the top four?

“Now, it’s four games. Every game is important for all the teams. Even for us, more than Goa obviously, it’s very important. But if we win tomorrow, we are still not qualified, and if we lose tomorrow, we are not out of the fight for the top four. And of course, we are thinking with the mindset that we have to win this game, and let’s see, we are preparing to get those three points.”

FC Goa head coach Derrick Pereira has admitted that his side has been weakened considerably by the COVID-19 outbreak. Will you go all out in this match given that your last three games are against potential semi-finalists?

“Yes, but I repeat, there are a lot of circumstances that don’t allow them to be in the fight for the top four. For me, sometimes when you play against teams that are only fighting to improve the position and not for the top four, they can play with more calmness given their quality. In the case of FC Goa, they have a quality side. Every game is different and now I think we have to be focused for the entire 90 minutes. I don’t know how many minutes the game will go on, but the focus is to beat FC Goa.”

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