Hyderabad/ Manjeri (Kerala):After weeks of toil and struggle, the Group B of the Hero Super Cup will come to a thrilling climax, as Hyderabad FC, Odisha FC and East Bengal are all in with a chance to qualify for the semifinals of the competition this season going into the final round of the group stage. While EBFC need to beat Aizawl in their early clash to stand a chance of qualification, Hyderabad and Odisha play a straight ‘winner takes it all’ knockout tie, when the duo face off at the Payyanad Stadium in Manjeri (Kerala) on Monday.
Hyderabad and Odisha have four points each going into this game, and East Bengal (2 points) could yet qualify, if this clash between HFC and OFC ends in a stalemate. Odisha drew against East Bengal in the first round of the competition but beat Aizawl 3-0, with Diego Mauricio and Victor Rodriguez on the scoresheet, along with Nanda Shekar, finding the back of the net in both games. Hyderabad FC, who made a stunning comeback in the last game to secure a point from 3-1 down against East Bengal, will want to put in a stronger performance in this tie. Javi Siverio, Halicharan Narzary, Borja Herrera, Joao Victor, Joel Chianese, Odei Onaindia and Chinglensana Konsham have been effective with their duties but will face a rejuvenated Odisha side, that will go for the win. With not much time to recover between games, HFC Head Coach Manolo Marquez believes that it is not easy for the teams to be at their best in this competition.
“We had just three days to prepare for this game. It is similar to the bubble when we have very little time for recovery and we have to be ready again,” said Manolo. Odisha and Hyderabad won their respective home games in the regular ISL season but Coach Manolo believes that the Super Cup is an entirely different prospect for both teams. “The Super Cup and the ISL are two completely different competitions. East Bengal drew against teams that finished higher than them in the league table. So, I have no doubt that Odisha will be tough opponents for us in this game,” said the Spaniard. The 2023 edition of the Hero Super Cup has already produced some close games, entertaining the state of Kerala but Coach Manolo says it is not easy for teams playing in the competition this season. “It is very difficult to organize a competition with 16 teams in one state.
You need more training grounds and more hotels, and it is not right to be playing the entire tournament in just two stadiums,” he said. “I know that the conditions are the same for all the teams but maybe it is better to play in two different states. But I think it is best to play the Super Cup during the regular season,” added the Spaniard. With all three teams still in fight for a place in the semi-final, Hyderabad FC will want to put in their best performance and hope to keep their dreams for another trophy, alive and running.