In quite the Hollywood style, Hyderabad FC crushed opponents with their marauding run to win the Indian Super League (ISL) title last season. The Nizams, under the tutelage of head coach Manolo Marquez, were one of the most cohesive units in the league.
Their free-flowing footballing captured the imagination of many last season, but now they start yet again with a clean slate. Hyderabad have done well to retain the services of most of its core squad. Marquez has also added a few fresh faces to revamp his side and defend the ISL title.
On that note, let's take a look at Hyderabad FC's predicted playing XI for the upcoming season:
Goalkeeper: Laxmikant Kattimani
When the ISL 2021-22 finale boiled down to a penalty shootout, almost like a messiah, Laxmikant Kattimani emerged as the hero for Hyderabad FC. He made three saves in the shootout against Kerala Blasters FC to clinch the title.
Not just in the shootout, throughout the season, Kattimani showed great composure between the sticks as he kept three clean sheets and made a whopping 61 saves.
Right-Back: Reagan Singh
The Nizams roped in the veteran full-back on a season-long loan deal from Chennaiyin FC in the summer transfer window. Last season, Reagan Singh made 18 appearances for the Marina Machans and registered 58 tackles, 26 interceptions, 40 clearances, and 23 blocks.
Even up the pitch, the 31-year-old defender could be a threat given his crossing abilities from wide.
Centre-Back: Odei Onaindia
Odei Onaindia is not new to the ISL. The Spaniard featured for Manolo Marquez's outfit in the 2020-21 season when the side failed to make it to the playoffs. The Lekeitio-born centre-back is expected to be an important part of Nizam's defense, pairing up with Chinglensana Singh.
Last time he played in India, Onaindia recorded a total of 770 passes in the 20 games he featured in, showing his quality while building out from the back.
Centre-Back: Chinglensana Singh
Slowly but steadily, Chinglensana Singh has established himself as one of the best centre-backs in the country. In the previous season, he made 21 appearances, making 41 tackles, 23 interceptions, 79 clearances, and 27 blocks.
The Manipur lad is maturing into a good ball-playing defender who is also looking to become a regular for the Indian football team.
Left-Back: Akash Mishra
A vital part of Manolo Marquez’s plans, Akash Mishra has been one of the first names to be on the team sheet for the Spaniard. The young full-back has played more minutes than any other player in yellow and black in the last two ISL seasons. He featured in every game for the Nizams in their historic, title-winning 2021-22 ISL campaign.
Last season, he chipped in with two goals and three assists, showing his attacking caliber.
Central Midfielder: Joao Victor
Joao Victor is a leader on and off the pitch and is one of the first names on the team list. His ability to make pivotal interceptions and then carry the ball forward makes him a midfield metronome. The Brazilian can also create play from deep and unlock opposition defenses.
Central Midfielder: Hitesh Sharma
Hitesh Sharma is expected to be a starter after the departure of Souvik Chakrabarti. He has already found himself with added responsibility in the recently-concluded Durand Cup and is expected to step up during the ISL season.
Left winger: Mohammad Yasir
Trusted by Manolo Marquez, Mohammad Yasir could establish himself as the top prospect in Indian football this season. His versatility makes him a strong asset to the team.
Yasir scored the all-important goal for the Nizams in the ISL 2021-22 semi-final first leg against ATK Mohun Bagan. Further, he registered two assists in 16 matches.
Mohammad Yasir should retain his place in the lineup into the new season. He has impressed Manolo Marquez and his versatility makes him a strong asset for the team. It will be an important season for Yasir who can stamp his authority on Indian football.
Right winger: Nikhil Poojary
The former East Bengal man is an industrous winger and is expected to play a crucial role in Hyderabad FC's upcoming campaign. He played 19 games last season, scoring a goal and assisting twice.
Center-forward: Javi Siverio
The young forward last season made a crucial impact off the bench. This year, however, he could feature much more in the starting lineup. In the 2021-22 season, he made 23 appearances, scoring seven goals and assisting twice.
The Spaniard could start alongside Bartholomew Ogbeche and form a free-wheeling partnership.
Center-forward: Bartholomew Ogbeche
Without an iota of doubt, the top scorer of last season will yet again lead the attacking line for HFC. Bartholomew Ogbeche scored 18 goals in 20 matches last season. The Nigerian has been in sublime touch even in the Durand Cup and is expected to carry the form into the ISL season.