Image Credits: @ISL
Hyderabad FC will look to bridge the gap on leaders Mumbai City FC and move to second in the points table when they take on wooden spooners SC East Bengal in the Hero Indian Super League at the Athletic Stadium in Bambolim on Thursday.
Hyderabad are on a five-match unbeaten streak, the joint longest unbeaten streak this season along with Kerala Blasters. Hyderabad have a game in hand and with a win against lowly SC East Bengal, they can move to second spot with 14 points, one adrift of Mumbai who have 15 from seven matches.
The Nizams have looked one of the most balanced sides this season with attack and defence clicking in tandem. Australian forward Joel Chianese has been impactful for Hyderabad chipping in with one goal and two assists in 282 minutes this season. Chianese has played as the second striker behind Bart Ogbeche and has rotated with Edu Garcia for a place in the starting XI.
Hyderabad have conceded five goals in six league games this season, they boast the second-best defensive record in the league after Chennaiyin FC. Manolo Marquez will know all too well that this is their best opportunity to cut the gap at the top of the heap. In SC East Bengal, they have a side who are on an 11-match winless streak (4 matches last season and 7 matches this season).
"Every game is very difficult to win. SC East Bengal is just another game. We will try to win but we won't see the opponents as being placed in the bottom. It is true that SC East Bengal is not in the best of form but the three draws they have got this season came against teams in the top half of the table," said Marquez.
SC East Bengal are a different story altogether. Jose Manuel Diaz's men are at the foot of the table with three points from seven engagements. They lost 0-2 to NorthEast United FC in their last encounter and also saw their best player, Antonio Perosevic, sent off.
Centre back Franjo Prce also picked up a knock in the last game and Darren Sidoel is already nursing an injury. The red and gold army are also without Jackichand Singh and Ankit Mukherjee which doesn't help their cause.
SC East Bengal have been very poor defensively and have also lacked teeth in attack. Daniel Chima Chukwu has not lived up to his hype so far and the team cut a sorry figure in the second half against NorthEast United, who themselves haven't looked great.
"Like all matches we played, we want to win. Every match is different. This is the reason we are not winning. Our target is to win every match. Antonio (Peroseivc( will be missed, he was playing regularly but we have options in Chima, Semboi and Balwant," said Diaz.