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ISL 2019: How will FC Hyderabad fare this season?

ISL 2019: How will FC Hyderabad fare this season?

Abhranil Roy

Published: 25 Oct 2019 9:26 AM GMT

The city of Hyderabad may have had a legendary association with the beautiful game, but until this year it had no association with the India Super League (ISL). With FC Pune City relocating to the City of the Nizams though, the narrative has finally changed with the birth of FC Hyderabad. Consisting of personnel mostly present in the Pune contingent, the cash-rich league’s newest franchise will be hoping that the rebranding also reawakens their fortunes.

FC Pune City did not have a good run last year, finishing seventh on the table. However, at one point of time, even that seemed unlikely but they have coach Phil Brown to thanks for it. The Britisher salvaged their season, having been appointed even beyond the half-way but will be hoping to leave a better imprint this time around. The departures of Ashique Kuruniyan and Sarthak Golui, star players from the last season would have hit them but a smart recruitment policy has seen them hire quite a few exciting names.

Setup this season

Known to switch between a back three and a back four, Phil Brown is known to shuffle his tactics as per the opposition. With Kamaljit Singh expected to serve under the bars, the back four will mostly comprise of Sahil Panwar, new signings Kilgallon and Rafael Gomez as well as Asish Rai. Adil Khan and Stankovic are expected to comprise the defensive midfield with the former most likely to drop into the auxiliary centre-back role if Brown uses a back three.

East Bengal’s star forward from last year, Laldanmawia Ralte and the ever-dependable Nestor Gordillo will be the left and right wingers respectively(can also feature as wide forwards) and the incomparable Marcelinho combining with Bobo down the middle. Bobo could have a Corominas-esque impact on FC Hyderabad and become synonymous with the club: he netted 42 goals in 57 games for Sydney FC in the A-League, from where he was recruited. Ralte and Nestor also offer the option to switch wings and confuse opposition markers, with both players comfortable with both the ball at their feet. Marcelinho, who had 10 goal contributions last year, no doubt will be the focal point of this diverse attack and it is a combination that the Brazilian will no doubt love to thrive in.

Essentially a 4-2-3-1 that might shift to a 3-4-3 as required, Brown also has good squad depth and can summon the likes of Robin Singh, Nikhil Poojary and Stankovic to make the difference for him in crunch games.


The squad

Goalkeepers: Kamaljit Singh, Anuj Kumar, Laxmikant Kattimani

Defenders: Sahil Panwar, Rafael Lopez Gomez, Matthew Kilgallon, Gurtej Singh, Mohammad Yasir, Tarif Akhand, Asish Rai

Midfielders: Adil Ahmed Khan, Sahil Tavora, Deependra Negi, Nestor Jesus Benitez, Marko Stankovic, Shankar Sampingiraj, Laldanmawia Ralte, Rohit Kumar, Gani Nigam, Nikhil Poojary

Forwards: Giles Barnes, Deyvison Rogerio Da Silva (Bobo), Marcelo Leite Pereira (Marcelinho), Abhisek Halder, Robin Singh

Key players

Marcelinho: Officially ISL’s highest-ever goal-creator, Marcelinho will once again be expected to shoulder the creative burden. With 16 assists in 46 ISL games, the Brazilian will be integral to Brown’s ambitions. He also racked up 6 goals last year, which makes him an extremely potent goal-scorer as well. With the likes of Nestor and Bobo around him, he should relish in the environment he will find himself in and should be clicking right away.

Nestor Benitez: An integral part of I-League champions Chennai City FC last year, Nestor was signed under controversial circumstances but there can be absolutely no controversy as to what he brings on the table for FC Hyderabad. With 9 assists in 22 games last year, his runs from the wings were an absolute joy to watch. He was obviously signed to reduce the load on Marcelinho and that is exactly what the Spaniard will look to do.

Adil Khan: India’s hero from the draw versus Bangladesh, Adil Khan has the potential to be the base around which FC Hyderabad function this season. Comfortable with the ball at his feet, the 31-year-old has already underlined his quality with the Indian national team and his versatility and tactical flexibility will offer a lot of options to his manager. It is imperative for Adil to carry on his good form with the national team to the ISL and establish his reputation, once and for all.


With the squad that they have in place, FC Hyderabad will most certainly look to make it to the play-offs this year. However, the ISL is unpredictable and given that it is technically their first season in existence, a game-by-game approach would no doubt suit Brown and his boys better.

FC Hyderabad takes on ATK away from home in their first-ever ISL clash on the 25th of October. Their first home game is the South–Indian derby against Kerala Blasters on the 2nd of November.

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