Hyderabad FC squad, season preview, prediction | ISL 2019-20
In its sixth year now, the Indian Super League has two new teams. Delhi Dynamos relocated to Odisha while FC Pune City wound up operations, with new owners taking them to Hyderabad.
The city of Nizams will see its first taste of ISL action this season when the Phil Brown-led Hyderabad FC take the field. FC Pune City, Hyderabad's predecessors endured a largely torrid ISL last season, but they did finish strong, with Brown leading a resurgence of sorts.
In Adil Khan, Nikhil Poojary and Kamaljit Singh, Hyderabad have with them players who have been regulars in Igor Stimac's India squads, and with the likes of Marcelinho, Marko Stankovic and Robin Singh staying on, there is some firepower in the squad.
However, the concern for Hyderabad will be in the depth of quality they seem to be missing, especially in terms of their Indian contingent, which has been accentuated by Ashique Kuruniyan moving to Bengaluru FC.
Hyderabad FC Squad
Rafa Lopez, who played for Pune in ISL 2017-18, makes a return to Indian shores with Hyderabad, and experienced Englishman Matthew Kilgallon will give him company at the heart of the defence.
Stankovic has stayed on and after a long saga, Nestor Gordillo has been registered to play for Hyderabad. Nestor has been banned by the AIFF, so he will not be available for Hyderabad's initial matches.
In Laldanmawia Ralte, who was signed from East Bengal, Hyderabad have a winger capable of scoring goals, which was a big problem for them last season.
Robin Singh found his goalscoring touch late in the season, but there was too much pressure on Marcelinho, to both score and create for Pune, which is something that Brown will look to correct.
Asish Rai, a young right-back has been signed from the Indian Arrows, while Sahil Tavora makes his return to India, after spending a season in Portugal.
Brazilian striker Bobo comes into the ISL with an impressive goalscoring record in previous stints abroad. Bobo, who played for Turkish first division club Alanyaspor last season, scored 42 goals in 57 appearances for Sydney FC in the A-League in his stint in Australia from 2016 to 2018.
Jamaican striker Giles Barnes, meanwhile, has joined Hyderabad after stints at various clubs in the MLS.
Full Hyderabad FC Squad
Goalkeepers: Kamaljit Singh, Anuj Kumar, Laxmikant Kattimani
Defenders: Rafa Lopez, Matthew Kilgallon, Sahil Panwar, Gurtej Singh, Asish Rai, Mohammad Yasir, Tarif Akhand
Midfielders: Adil Khan, Marko Stankovic, Nestor Gordillo, Nikhil Poojary, Laldanmawia Ralte, Shankar Sampingiraj, Sahil Tavora, Rohit Kumar, Deependra Negi, Gani Ahmed Nigam
Forwards: Marcelinho, Bobo, Giles Barnes, Robin Singh, Abhishek Halder
Phil Brown, who joined Pune last season in January, will take the helm at Hyderabad, and he will look to continue the work for which he laid the foundations last season.
Brown has been bullish about Hyderabad's chances in the build-up to the season, and he will need to coax big performances from his big players.
Robin Singh told Sportskeeda last season that he was pleased to work for Brown, and by the Englishman's focus on hard work. Robin, who has also scored freely in pre-season, knows that he will have to bang the goals in, with Igor Stimac still looking out for a free-scoring striker for the national team.
There are too many variables and uncertainties at this point to mark out Hyderabad as sure-shot contenders for a place in the playoffs, but they definitely do possess the ingredients to be challenging.
Rafa Lopez is now 34, and Kilgallon is 35. The age of the partnership will definitely be something that other teams will look to target, especially with the inexperience in the full-back positions. Adil Khan may slot in alongside Rafa and Kilgallon in the back three that Brown favoured at the end of last season, but even he isn't the quickest across the turf.
Marcelinho needs to have another big goalscoring season, and if he's supported well enough by the likes of Bobo, Barnes and Robin, then there's no reason why Hyderabad can't aim high.