Hyderabad: Last-year debutants Hyderabad FC look for a fresh start when they open their campaign against Odisha FC in the Indian Super League match at the GMC Stadium in Bambolim, on Monday.
Spaniard Manolo Marquez will take charge of his first-ever league game as Hyderabad’s head coach and will be up against Odisha FC’s Stuart Baxter, who will also be making his debut in the ISL. The Monday-night battle sees an interesting match-up of teams with a focus on young Indian players. Both sides have named a total of 36 U-23 players in their ISL squads for the season. However, apart from the youngsters there have been some key additions of experienced players on both sides.
The hosts, Odisha, have added former HFC players in Marcelinho and Kamaljit Singh while the likes of Cole Alexander, Steven Taylor and Manuel Onwu form a strong foreign contingent at Odisha. Meanwhile Jerry Mawihmingthanga, Shubham Sarangi, Nandhakumar Sekhar and Vinit Rai are the key Indian players that Baxter will depend on.
On the other hand, Hyderabad have also brought in a host of new players in the off-season. Key Indian national team players in Subrata Paul and Halicharan Narzary join Adil Khan and Nikhil Poojary at the club while a host of youngsters are also in line to play a key role this season. However, the big name for HFC will be Aridane Santana, who scored nine goals for Odisha last season and will be up against his former side for the first time on Monday.
The teams have been training in Goa for over a month now, and ahead of their first league game, both sides have tested themselves in friendly clashes against fellow ISL opposition. Hyderabad has played against Kerala Blasters, Bengaluru FC, FC Goa and NorthEast United while Odisha has played Chennaiyin FC and Mumbai City.
After a run of tough pre-season games with mixed results, the new look HFC side go into the game against Odisha FC without the services of two players, Dimple Bhagat and Fran Sandaza, who miss out due to injury.
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