Everything that we did during the season paid off: Hyderabad FC Victor after maiden ISL title

As Hyderabad FC beat Kerala Blasters 3-1 in the penalty shootout to win the Indian Super League 2021-22 Championship, the Spaniard finally had a smile on his face with the gold medal around his neck.

Hyderabad FC captain Joao Victor is awarded the Champions cheque at the presentation ceremony after the final of Indian Super League against Kerala Blasters at the Fatorda stadium in Goa on Sunday.   -  FOCUS SPORTS/ISL

Hyderabad FC Captain Joao Victor had told the press that the team had given its all to arrive at the final this season.

As it beat Kerala Blasters 3-1 in the penalty shootout to win the Indian Super League (ISL) 2021-22 Championship, the Spaniard finally had a smile on his face with the gold medal around his neck.

READ | ISL 2021-22: Hyderabad FC reigns supreme, beats Kerala Blasters on penalties for maiden ISL title

“It paid off. Everything that we did during the season paid off — last season, being in a bubble, even this season being in a bubble, and then quarantined because we had a lot of cases of COVID,” he said.

“We couldn’t fight for the shield, because of the COVID circumstances. Staying away from the family has been very very difficult for all of us. But, I always see the group we have here is like a family, and that makes it easier. For me this is the best group I have played with throughout my career.”

Kerala Blasters had come into the match not losing a single game where it had scored the opening goal. When Rahul KP scored from outside the box, it may have had a feeling that the statistics favoured the three-time finalist.

Victor said those were times when he and the other senior players decided to lift the morale of his team and the result arrived in twenty odd minutes.

READ | Hyderabad FC's Bartholomew Ogbeche wins ISL 2021-22 Golden Boot

“They scored in the 68th minute, not the 95th, so we knew that we could win,” said Victor.

HFC head coach Manolo Marquez was all praises for goalkeeper Laxmikant Kattimani, who saved three of the four penalties to guide his team to its maiden ISL title.

“In my opinion, if I have to choose one goalkeeper in the season, I’ll choose Kattimani,” he said.

“For our style of play, I think he is the best goalkeeper. He is not only a goalkeeper in goal, he is very good with his feet, he can play outside the box like today, in some moments.”

Hyderabad, except, Javier Siverio’s header in first-half injury time, had played completely on the backfoot. In the second-half, its intent was crystal clear — play clinical and go for goals.

ALSO READ | Kerala Blasters FC's Prabhsukhan Gill wins ISL 2021-22 Golden Glove

Joao Victor began firing from midfled, Bartholomew Ogbeche continued shooting with Sahil Tavora finally finding his way against Prabhsukhan Gill.

“At half-time, we said (to our players) that we have to play a little more compactly. In the first half, we had too much space between our lines. In the second half, I think we controlled the situation a bit more,” Marquez told the press.

“I think we played well, in terms of football because we know what our situation was in the last weeks and days. I think we played with a lot of personality in the second half and in the extra time.”

Tavora became the first Indian to score for Hyderabad against Kerala Blasters in the history of the league as his team finished the 2021-22 campaign with most goals outside the box (13) — bettering KBFC even here, which is placed second with 11 goals.

With a resurgence from the bottom of the table two seasons ago to the top, with an Indian scoring the winner in the penalty shootout, Hyderabad may well be the trailblazer in the rise of more Indian prodigies, along the likes of Rohit Danu, Yasir Mohammad and Aniket Jadhav.

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