Hyderabad FC goes back to basics after dismal ISL debut

After a dismal debut Indian Super League campaign that saw the club finish at the bottom of the table, Hyderabad FC is all set to start from scratch.

Fan engagement, a grassroots football structure and a focus on Indian talent - Hyderabad FC   -  SPORTZPICS for ISL

Hyderabad FC (HFC)'s debut season didn't manage the start its top brass would have wanted in the recently concluded season of the Indian Super League. In hindsight, HFC co-founder Varun Tripuraneni calls the campaign challenging for the team hardly had any time to prepare once the club was formed.

In a chat with Sportstar here on Thursday, Varun says he knew what it takes to plan for the season and pull it off despite an unsatisfactory finish. “We are glad we could achieve that despite facing many odds,” he added.

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“Definitely, the high point of the season was the first home game. We had major infrastructure issues, floodlights had to be replaced, the main pitch had to be renovated and there was some massive renovation work in the stadium we undertook. To have the venue ready and to have a great crowd for the opening game was fantastic and to make the day special, we won the game with a brilliant second half performance,” Varun said.

“Obviously, finishing the season at the bottom of the table and sacking the coaching staff were the low points. It was a tough situation for Phil (Brown) and his staff and they did their best. Unfortunately, we had to part ways,” he said.

Commenting on the future plans, Varun says that they need to have a good mix of young and experienced players and that is why extensions were given to Adil Khan, (Mohammad) Yasir, Ashish (Rai) and Abhishek Haldar.

“Yes, we have a clear shortlist of Indian players who we feel will bolster the squad. The planning for next season started much earlier and we tried to make most of the January transfer window itself,” he added.


Hyderabad FC co-founder Varun Tripuraneni with Adil Khan.   -  Special arrangement

“ Sauvik Chakrabarti and Liston Colaco were two players who have come in and have already made an impact, both were signed on long term contracts. On foreign players, we have clarity now on the foreign players policy and Albert and the team have been putting in a lot of work to get the right mix,” he explained.

Former Bengaluru FC coach Albert Roca joins Hyderabad FC next season and Varun is optimistic about the experience the Spaniard brings to the table.

“He has been working on the squad. The player policies will change going forward, the number of foreign players in the squad might reduce and Albert will plan keeping this in mind. No doubt, there is a lot of work to be done on and off the field to be the top club in the country and we are determined to put the best efforts and make it a successful season,” the HFC official said.

READ: ISL: Albert Roca to take full charge of Hyderabad FC from 2020-21 season

Looking beyond its ISL campaign next season, Hyderabad FC also has other collaborations in the pipeline.

“We have been fairly active at the grassroots space in the first season. Though we did not have a dedicated team to work on this, we did have some good partnerships with schools and other tournaments/leagues/organisers like School Football League, SLAN,Hyderabad Football League etc and we made some meaningful contribution. This will be one area we will be extremely active going forward and we will have a strong grassroots programme which will be year round,” Varun explained.


Can Albert Roca turn the fortunes of Hyderabad FC around next season?   -  SPORTZPICS for ISL


“We are looking at options to have our own training centre and facilities which can be a base for the first team and a place where we can run our grassroots activities. We are also in talks with potential partners to set up a residential academy and I am confident we will have something concrete soon,” he says.

In the season gone by, reports suggested that gate sales were not leveraged to the fullest. Varun recognises this constraint and has fan engagement listed as a priority ahead of next season's campaign.

“Again, time was the constraint for us. We have started work on how to increase ticketing revenue for the upcoming season and beyond. This is one area a lot of clubs struggle with and it will be important we have a good strategy,” he said.

ISL: Hyderabad FC and coach Phil Brown part ways

When asked about the club's plans for next season, Varun emphasised on the basics.

“(It's) too early to comment on technical tie-ups. We have been in talks with a few clubs and there is interest for sure from clubs abroad. I think a number of clubs abroad are in conversations with other ISL clubs,” he said.

We are currently focusing on getting the basics right - getting the infrastructure right, building a strong squad for the upcoming season and the future, grassroots and youth development, have good commercial partnerships in place etc. However, I would not rule out on a technical tie up this season. We will have to see what’s best for the club in the long run,” the HFC official concluded.

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