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Hyderabad, Kerala Blasters gear up for thrilling ISL final

Fully packed Fatorda ready for historic game as fans return to the stands

Sports Social
Last updated: 20.03.2022
Hyderabad Kerala Blasters gear up for thrilling ISL final

Goa: After toiling hard all season and overcoming many hardships, Manolo Marquez’s Hyderabad FC and Ivan Vukamanovic’s Kerala Blasters face-off in what promises to be a historic final of the 8th edition of the Indian Super League on Sunday night at Fatorda.

The Blasters, who finished fourth after 20 games in the league table, beat Jamshedpur FC 2-1 on aggregate in the semi-finals, to reach this stage for the third time in their history. Hyderabad, who reached the final after beating ATK Mohun Bagan 3-2 on aggregate after the two semi-final legs, play in their first ever ISL final, in what is just their third season in history.

Vukamanovic’s side have been one of the most exciting teams to watch in the competition, with the likes of Jorge Pereyra Diaz, Alvaro Vasquez, Adrian Luna, Marko Leskovic, Ruivah Hormipam, Jeakson Singh, Ayush Adhikari, Puitea and more importantly Prabhsukan Gill all in fine form all throughout the campaign.

Speaking about the challenges his side will face on Sunday, HFC Head Coach Manolo Marquez said, “Kerala are a very strong side. They have had a season of up and downs with injuries to important players. But everyone who stepped up have played with a lot of confidence in every game.”

“They have a similar style to our players, have experienced foreigners and quality Indian players, and will not be an easy side to face,” the Spaniard added.

The Blasters have lost just four games all season and have constantly proven a tough side to beat, even for the best teams in the competition.

Hyderabad FC, who narrowly missed out on the league shield earlier in the season, will be determined to go all the way in the finals. The league’s leading goal scorers, HFC also have the second-best defense in the league, and are not going to be an easy side to face on Sunday.

Bartholomew Ogbeche, the Golden Boot favourite, has 18 goals so far this season, including the crucial equalizer he scored against ATK Mohun Bagan in the first leg of the semi-final. He has been productive in front of goal and will be the danger man for the Blasters on the night.

Hyderabad also have an in-form Laxmikant Kattimani, who has pulled out more saves than any other goal keeper in the competition so far this season. Kattimani has been ably supported by the backline of Juanan, Chinglensana Konsham, Akash Mishra and Asish Rai along with Nim Dorjee Tamang, all of who have bene exceptional for most of the campaign.

The midfield workhorses in Joao Victor and Souvik Chakrabarti, alongwith the goal scoring exploits of Javi Siverio, Joel Chianese, Aniket Jadhav and Mohammad Yasir, more recently, have made Hyderabad a team that is fun to watch.

Hyderabad and Kerala Blasters have registered a win each in the two times they have met earlier in the season. The story was the same last season and the one before as well, so there is hardly anything to separate the two sides, as the scene sets for one of the most awaited football matches in the country.

This will be the first time Manolo will be in charge of an ISL game with packed stadium and the Spaniard is ready for the experience. “Football is for the fans. If you play without fans, it is a different game. It is fantastic and we can’t wait for the final,” he said.

Manolo believes that two sides are quite similar in a lot of aspects. “I think we play similar to Kerala Blasters in most games. The style of team is not too different. The quality and characteristics are the same,” he said.

“But we have to know the strengths and weaknesses of the opponents and we will try to stick to our style,” the HFC Head Coach added.

While the on-field story is as exciting as it can get, the fact that the finals will be played in front of a fully-packed Fatorda has only added more spice to the story. The ISL has been played behind closed doors since the start of the last season but on Sunday, we are expected to see the stadium packed with fans from both sides, acting as the 12th man for what could be a thrilling night of football.

The game kicks off at 7:30 pm on Wednesday and will be telecasted live on the Star Sports Network with live streaming on Disney+ Hotstar and JioTV.


 Note: This is a release from the Hyderabad FC media

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