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ISL 2020-21: Hyderabad FC’s young Indian core continues to impress

ISL 2020-21: Hyderabad FC’s young Indian core continues to impress
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By

Sayan Chatterjee

Published: 16 Dec 2020 10:01 AM GMT

Hyderabad FC are fifth on the Indian Super League (ISL) table with 9 points after 5 games. They are already just one point short of their entire tally last season when they finished bottom of the pile. While there are a number of factors that have contributed towards their unbeaten start to the season, the emergence of their young Indian stars is perhaps the most noteworthy.

It is rare that you see an ISL side play without its full quota of foreign players. But for Hyderabad, that has been a routine phenomenon this season following some tough luck with injuries. Not that they’ll be complaining though. The progress that Liston Colaco, Akash Mishra, Asish Rai, Hitesh Sharma and Mohammad Yasir have shown in the five matches till now has meant that they haven’t really missed the likes of Lluis Sastre, Joel Chianese, Fran Sandaza or Adil Khan (who is now fit).

The fact that they have a youngster playing in every department on the pitch except for the goalkeeper, is testament of the obvious trust that Manuel Marquez Roca has in them. But the way they have all responded to a tough situation is probably the biggest takeaway of the season so far. Liston Colaco has been the most eye-catching so far, and his two assists against SC East Bengal last night once again underlined his credentials as a game-changer. His ability to keep things simple yet effective in the final third is what the Hyderabad midfield was crying out for in the first half. It was no surprise then that as soon as he came on, the Nizams could quickly change gears and start dominating East Bengal’s defence.

https://twitter.com/HydFCOfficial/status/1339103933814468608

It’s this simplicity which has been the most discernible feature in Akash Mishra and Asish Rai’s game as well. The full back duo have been relentless every time they’ve stepped on to the field and have seldom let opposition attackers get on their wrong side. Moreover, their decision-making in terms of choosing the right moments to venture forward has been absolutely fantastic. The confidence with which they are playing now was epitomized by a fantastic display of individual skill last night by Rai when he bamboozled Narayan Das with a sublime touch that put the ball beyond the East Bengal defender before he got to it on the other side. Likewise, Mishra had over 30 successful passes in the first half itself, which is indicative of his desire for the ball even when put under pressure by opposition wingers.

In midfield, Roca has been able to call upon the likes of Yasir and Hitesh and to their credit they have done very little that could be held against them. While Hitesh has comfortably slipped into the box to box role in the absence of Lluis Sastre, Yasir has been instrumental with his well-timed runs behind the defence as well as his propensity to pick the right through balls. Both these players are intelligent enough to keep circulating the ball quickly and that has been a major feature of the Nizams’ attacking threat.

Hyderabad play twice in the next eleven days and that should allow them to get some of their foreign recruits up to speed. Despite that, the knowledge that he can introduce these youngsters whenever required must be an extremely reassuring thought for Roca. However, three-quarters of the season is still left. And even though things can change in football just like that, the performances that these youngsters have put in so far should inspire others who are yet to make a substantial mark in this year’s competition.

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