Bhubaneshwar, Dec 1 (IANS): Former winner Hyderabad FC take on reigning champion Mohun Bagan Super Giant (MBSG) at the Kalinga Stadium here on Saturday, as the Mariners return to the Indian Super League (ISL) 2023-24 after playing their last match in the competition a month ago against Jamshedpur FC.
In between, the Juan Ferrando-coached MBSG faced two defeats in the AFC Cup, against Basundhara Kings and Odisha FC, respectively. It is the loss against the Juggernauts, by 5-2, which would have raised serious questions, given that the incredible quality coming through their ranks arguably does not justify the scoreline.
However, Ferrando can take solace from the fact that he has the requisite players at his disposal to spark a turnaround, and they perhaps have the perfect opportunity to do so against a Hyderabad FC unit that is yet to see success this season.
The side has drawn thrice and lost four games in seven encounters, but they must look at this as a window of opportunity against a strongly built Mohun Bagan Super Giant setup embroiled in the middle of overcoming successive setbacks.
There are few things as dangerous as a wounded tiger. The Mariners would not have taken the loss inflicted by Odisha FC on them on their home turf lightly and one can be rest assured that they have the necessary talent amongst their ranks to make up for their defeats at the continental stage in the last two games. It is an assembled squad of highly successful individuals, who will be keen to get their season back on track to march in the race for the top spot in the league.
To be fair, they have not faltered on that front, winning all four of their ISL games thus far. The Mariners are scoring over 2 goals per game on average in this campaign, which is the highest rate amongst all teams.
They have also conceded merely four times in all these matches thus far. On paper, they should fancy their chances against a struggling Hyderabad FC unit but football is won on the field and they need to be on top of their game in Bhubaneswar.
The genesis of all the problems for Hyderabad FC is their inability to put balls into the back of the opposition’s net.
“I think the players are trying their best, and that is the good part. But we are still missing the goals,” Hyderabad FC head coach Thangboi Singto said after they lost 1-0 to Kerala Blasters FC in Kochi last week.
Hyderabad FC have scored the joint least goals, four, same as Jamshedpur FC, among all teams this season.
Hyderabad FC need to work steadfastly to find solutions, especially considering that the likes of Joe Knowles, Mohammad Yasir, and Petteri Pennanen amongst others have all shown shades of individual brilliance at some point in the season. For those efforts to come together and unravel collectively on the pitch is something that needs to happen quickly for Singto to get some momentum underway in this campaign.
Both teams have played each other on 10 occasions with Mohun Bagan Super Giant winning three times while Hyderabad bagged two wins as five matches ended in a draw.