Hyderabad FC will be eyeing a top four position at the end of the first leg when they take on NorthEast United FC in a mid-table clash of the Indian Super League (ISL) here on Friday.
HFC are currently sixth in the league table, with 12 points from nine games while NorthEast United are a notch below with 11 points.
"This is not a normal season and I think it is almost impossible to predict who will end in the top-4 places. But for us, we will have to take it step by step, and focus on our game against NorthEast," said HFC's head coach Manuel Marquez Roca.
The NorthEast have a strong squad at their disposal. The likes of Benjamin Lambot, Dylan Fox, Khassa Camara and Kwesi Appiah have all been consistent this season.
Indian stars like Ninthoi, Lalengmawia, Gurjinder Kumar and Ashutosh Mehta have also been impressive, adding some balance to the squad.
"NorthEast are a well-organised side. They are a team with a lot of young players and a smart coach. Not just Appiah, Lambot, Apuia and Ninthoi, they have a lot of quality in their squad and are a dangerous side to face," said Marquez.
"I know they have had a few poor results recently, but the performances were not bad and they can surely get a result from this game, and so can we," he added.
Marquez also has a number of options for his starting eleven.
Joel Chianese, HalicharanNarzary and Joao Victor were all among goals against CFC and the head coach will hope that they can keep up the good work against NorthEast United.
The likes of LluisSastre, OdeiOnaindia, Aridane Santana have also been ably supported by Chinglensana Singh, Akash Mishra, Asish Rai and Mohammad Yasir and will all be crucial for the side's push into the top-4.
Fran Sandaza, who limped off in the game against Chennaiyin, is unavailable for this clash, confirmed Marquez.
"He (Fran) is not ready for this game but it is not a huge injury and he could be back soon. (Nikhil) Poojary is also doubtful for this game and like Fran, could be back for our next game," revealed Marquez, when asked about injury and team news.
While Hyderabad managed to arrest their three-match losing streak with a commanding victory over Csaba Lazlo's side in the last game, the Highlanders have not registered a victory in any of their last five games, picking up just three points.
But both teams are equally matched and could produce an exciting contest on Friday.
"Now we have more players available than at the start of the season. It is almost impossible to play with the same XI when the schedule is so tight so may be, we can change a few things up for this game," concluded Manolo, giving a hint about the line-up he might field for this game.
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