ISL 2021-22: Hyderabad FC co-owner Varun Tripurareni says team balance key to stellar performance

Talking about the head coach Manolo, the HFC official said being cool under pressure, making brilliant substitutions and getting the best out of the young Indian players were the most striking features.

Varun Tripuraneni, co-owner of Hyderabad FC which was the first to qualify for the play-offs in the ongoing ISL.   -  SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Hyderabad FC’s biggest strength is the bonding amongst all the members including players and support staff and the willingness to go the extra length in improving with each match, said Varun Tripuraneni, co-owner of the HFC.

“It is a complete team effort,” he said. With HFC being the first team to make it to the play-offs in the ongoing ISL, Varun shared his thoughts with Sportstar on various issues about his team’s progress.

“This is a very balanced side with the confidence on a high. It is more solid now compared to the previous two editions. The fact that Bartholomew Ogbeche has been the lead scorer so far in this ISL is reflective of the kind of support he got from the entire team. We are aware that the teams will go all out to stop him in the play-offs,” Varun said.

“Definitely, it has been a very satisfying season so far. Two more games to go before the play-offs and we want to finish the league phase on a high,” he said.

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Hyderabad FC striker Bat Ogbeche is the top scorer with 17 goals in 17 matches.   -  Focus Sports/ISL

 

“Honestly, everything went according to the plan so far. We made the changes we looked for especially with regard to foreign players. It has been a great season so far. In every department, we proved to be one of the best. Full credit to head coach Manolo Marquez, the support staff and the players for realising the mistakes made last season and ensuring that we don't repeat the same now,” Varun explained.

“When Manolo came on board last season, the message was simple - fight till the play-offs. It was a young team and he groomed it really well. He stressed that we must fight till the last game without over-emphasising on making it to the play-offs,” the HFC top official said.

“Well, planning for this season began long back. We knew the needs and aspirations of the team as a whole. Thankfully, Manolo is now more familiar with the team and ensured that we really built a strong team,” Varun said.

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“We have a great bunch of players who are also wonderful characters, going all out for the team’s cause. Honestly, we were confident of making it to the playoffs this season given the brand of football we have been playing,” he said.

On the ongoing campaign, Varun said no targets were set for the team. “The focus was all about bonding, self-belief,” he said.

“The biggest challenge has been the bio-bubble. Psychologically it has been quite challenging too. A number of teams were hit by the pandemic cases and matches were rescheduled. So, it was difficult to keep the players motivated and hungry,” Varun said.

“But, we believed in communication as the key. Since there is no scope for interaction with the support staff and players, I have ensured that there has been a lot of virtual interaction with them to keep the morale high, explaining to them the possible scenarios

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It has been a long season in a bubble - credit to the entire team for rising to the occasion,” he explained.

On playing at neutral venues? “It is tough playing without the fans. The motivation levels will be definitely higher when they are in the stands cheering the players. The atmosphere with packed houses is something which any player would enjoy for sure,” Varun said.

“I just can’t think of another season with this bubble around. Hopefully, we have these home and away games next season with the pandemic threat easing out considerably,” he said even while feeling that the neutral venues have negated the advantage or disadvantage of playing at home and away.

On the play-offs, Varun said the semifinals are double-leg affairs and it was more important for the team to finish the league on a positive note.

Referring to the plans on Residential Football Academy in Hyderabad, the HFC co-owner said the plans were delayed because of the pandemic and it would be launched soon along with the year-long grassroots football development programme.

READ: ISL 2021-22: Hyderabad FC needs a positive approach to improve on last season - Marquez

On the sponsorship front, Varun said they hoped for more regional brands joining them even as they were eager to engage the existing sponsors.

Talking about the head coach Manolo, the HFC official said being cool under pressure, making brilliant substitutions right through to see the team come back after being done in any given match and getting the best out of the young Indian players were the most striking features.

“Importantly, his honest and organised approach to the task on hand is the key to the HFC campaign,” he said.

Questioned whether he is all excited and tense about HFC playing in the play-offs, Varun said not really but he was tense when HFC played Kerala Blasters because it was a very tough match.

“We didn’t want the issue of making it to the play-offs to go too close to the business end of the league. So, making it with two games to spare is certainly an exceptional performance,” he said.

“Obviously, it will be great if we finish off this ISL season with a high winning trophy,” he signed off with a big smile.

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