ISL 2020-21: Nikhil Poojari backs Hyderabad FC's chances for new season

ISL 2020: Forward Nikhil Poojari says Hyderabad FC has the right mix of Indian youngsters and experienced foreign players this year.

Nikhl Poojari played all of Hyderabad FC's 18 games in the 2019-20 season.

Hyderabad FC has a good combination of Indian youngsters and experienced overseas players, and the club, which finished at the bottom of the table in its debut season, has the quality to do well in the Indian Super League (ISL) 2020-21, says forward Nikhil Poojari.

“We have variety and quality in every position in the squad and that will help push us to train hard and play at our best right from the first game of the season,” Poojari said in an interview with Sportstar.

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How was the experience of being the only player to have featured in all 18 games for Hyderabad FC last year? What’s the secret of your phenomenal stamina?

There’s no secret. Just like in any major league in Europe, we’d like the season to be as long as possible with more games. More the games, the better it is for the players and the fans. We train all season, and with proper sleep and diet, anyone can do well. So, I think it is all down to having a proper schedule.

How different is the combination this time around?

We have just started training with the head coach. We have been doing great things in the training and he wants us to be confident in our abilities. We have variety and quality in every position in the squad and that will help push us to train hard and play at our best right from the first game of the season.

What do you feel are the strengths and weaknesses of this team? How do you rate Hyderabad FC’s chances in the 2020-21 ISL season?

For me, personally, we are a great side with a good combination of Indian youngsters and experienced overseas players, which is our biggest strength. I feel we have the quality to do well in the ISL this year. In terms of weaknesses, every team will have their weaknesses, but I like to look it as glass half full and not half empty. We will look to iron out our shortcomings and concentrate on our strengths.

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How are the preparations especially in view of the coronavirus pandemic? What did you lose out on because of the restrictions?

It’s a different year, not just for us, but the whole globe. I would rather say we are lucky to be able to do our jobs and entertain our fans. Thanks to the organisers and the team for taking all the precautions and making sure the Indian Super League can be back!

What do you have to say about the league being held in one state and nearby venues? What does missing home advantage mean for the teams?

Yes, we will miss the home advantage. The fans back at home in Hyderabad were fantastic last year. We are surely going to miss them in the stands. But having said that, we should be thankful that we are able to play the game we all love even during the pandemic.

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