Hyderabad: Officials of the Indian Super League (ISL) on Wednesday inspected the GMC Balayogi Stadium where Hyderabad FC will be playing their home matches and seemed visibly happy with the arrangements in place. The ground was recently re-laid with green surface in the wake of the upcoming tournament, giving a sigh of relief to the officials as city-based Fateh Hyderabad and All India Football Federation (AIFF) had shifted their home matches in the I-League 2nd Division football tournament to RDT Anantapur in 2018 since the ‘pitch was not in good shape’ last season.
When contacted, the officials of Balayogi Stadium were unavailable for comments. Meanwhile, former Indian football team captain and city footballer Victor Amalraj expressed confidence that the Stadium is good enough to conduct ISL matches. “It’s been a while since I went to the stadium. But from what I have seen in the past, the ground looks fine. We have conducted international matches successfully here during the 2003 Afro-Asian Games. I am sure that proper arrangements have been made for ISL,” he said.
Talking about Hyderabad crowd, Victor said he would like to see a full-packed ground when Hyderabad FC meet Kerala Blasters in their first home match on Saturday. “I remember playing in cities like Kozhikode and Kolkata where the crowd was absolutely fantastic. I’m hopeful that people will turn up though transportation might be a factor. Hyderabad FC playing at home is a good development which can uplift the game in the city. Clear coordination between Telangana Football Association (TFA) and ISL in the form of a tie-up can benefit State football,” the former footballer, who had the experience of playing in the best stadiums across the country, said.
Earlier when asked about the ground, Hyderabad FC coach Phil Brown had said his team was yet to train at their home ground. “Even though we haven’t played at the Gachibowli Stadium, we will be ready to adapt to its conditions. Looking forward to the new season with confidence,” the coach had said.
The GMC Balayogi Stadium is a multipurpose venue which can house 30,000 people. Built at a cost of Rs.35.30 crores, this stadium has built-up area of 3.67 acres in 2002 for the National Games.