Hyderabad FC’s debut season in the Indian Super League (ISL) was one to forget. The Nizams managed just 10 points from 18 games and finished last in the table with just two wins and four draws.
However, positive developments in the final two months of the season highlighted a few bright spots ahead of the new season. Hyderabad staged impressive performances against Mumbai City FC and Bengaluru FC before concluding their season in tremendous fashion with a 5-1 win over NorthEast United FC.
The Nizams also made some promising reinforcements to their squad with the signing of Souvik Chakrabarti and youngsters like Liston Colaco. Headlines were made when Hyderabad announced that former Bengaluru boss Albert Roca will take over as head coach next season.
The Spaniard is familiar with the country’s footballing ecosystem, having coached the Blues for a season each in the I-League and the ISL. He also played a part in Bengaluru's runners-up finish in the 2016 AFC Cup.
An assistant to Frank Rijkaard at Barcelona, Roca brings a lot of experience to the table. Goal caught up with Souvik who expressed his eagerness to learn from the Spanish gaffer who made the ISL final with Bengaluru in their debut season.
“We all know that he is a great coach. As Bengaluru FC’s coach, he took the team to the final a few seasons back. I believe in his abilities and the philosophy and I expect to learn a lot under his tutelage,” he said.
“He has worked at the highest level with a team like Barcelona, so I am very excited to be working under him. I am sure that will be learning a lot of new things and can’t wait to get started.”
The defender also spoke about the warm reception he received at the club in his initial days. He believes that the players picked up a few positives and bonded well during the closing stages of last season and are raring to go ahead of the new era under Roca.
“There’s no point in dwelling in the past. We all know that it wasn’t a great season for the club, but it’s about the next one now. I joined in January and there was a change with the coach. It takes some time to adjust to a new coach and his systems and I played just three games then.
“But I feel very happy because everyone in the team helped me a lot. Towards the end, we managed to create a good bonding within the team and that is a big positive. We are all eager for the next season now,” he explained.
Roca’s Bengaluru adhered to the 3+1 rule in the 2016 AFC Cup and the Spaniard played a key role in getting the best out of the Indian players. Hyderabad have a rich talent pool in Sahil Panwar, Ashish Rai, Rohit Kumar, Abhishek Halder and Liston Colaco. It will be interesting to see how these players develop under Roca.