After registering consecutive wins in the last two matches of the Indian Super League (ISL), Hyderabad FC is set to host FC Goa at the GMC Balayogi Athletic Stadium here on Saturday.
Both teams are yet to lose a match with Hyderabad occupying the second spot with seven points from three games. Goa, meanwhile, stands third with six points in two matches.
Hyderabad FC began its title defence with a 3-3 draw against Mumbai City FC, and then registered back-to-back wins against NorthEast United FC and Bengaluru FC. The Gaurs kicked off their campaign with a 2-1 win against East Bengal FC and then registered a 2-0 win over Chennaiyin FC.
Hyderabad FC has scored the most number of goals this season, netting seven times in three games and start favourites but head coach Manolo Marquez ruled out any complacency ahead of Saturday's match.
“Goa has a well-balanced side and has made a strong start to the current campaign. We all know Carlos Pena has a style of play that is hard to face but we will try our best to find solutions and have a strong game,” Marquez said.
Fresh from a 1-0 victory against Bengaluru FC, Marquez is confident that his side will put on a good show in front of the home crowd.
“We were not at our best in the first half of the previous game, but in the second half, we were really strong. We know every game is difficult in the ISL but we are ready to put out our best,” the coach said.
The defending ISL champion has been impressive so far and will look to reclaim the top spot against Goa, which is playing its third consecutive away game.
For Hyderabad, Bartholomew Ogbeche has found the back of the net twice while goalkeeper Laxmikant Kattimani, who saved three penalties in last year's final to lead Hyderabad to its maiden ISL title, has now consecutive clean sheets.
The centre-back pair of Odei Onaindia and Chinglensana Singh has been impressive with Mohammad Yasir and Halicharan Narzary playing their roles to perfection in front of goal. Joao Victor has also slotted goals into the box.
Meanwhile, buoyed by consecutive wins against East Bengal and Chennaiyin FC, the Gaurs are now eyeing a third straight win but face a stiff challenge against Hyderabad. They will be eyeing full points but will be aware of the fact that they lost 3-1 to Hyderabad in the pre-season game.
FC Goa head coach Carlos Pena credited Hyderabad's style of play but said his team will play to its strengths.
"I don’t know if it will be the toughest as the last two games were pretty tough as well. It depends on what things happen during the game. I'm sure right now that it's going to be a tough game for both teams," FC Goa head coach Carlos Pena said.
"They are an experienced team, they've been playing together for two years, and this is their third year playing together with the same coach and experienced players. When I see Hyderabad FC, I see a solid and compact team. But we're going there to beat them and we'll try to take advantage of our strengths and we'll try to take the three points again," he added.
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