With four goals in five matches, Aridane Santana has accounted for 66 percent of Hyderabad FC's goals in the Indian Super League (ISL) this season. The 33-year-old also serves as the captain of the side and has done a terrific job so far.
The first sighting of Aridane Santana in the ISL came on the 22nd of October 2019. The Spaniard managed to score on his debut for Odisha FC in a 2-1 loss to Jamshedpur FC. While that was Santana's first goal in the ISL, it also happened to be Odisha FC's first goal after taking over from the financially-troubled Delhi Dynamos FC.
Having signed an initial loan deal, Aridane Santana went on to leave his mark on the ISL as one of the top goalscorers. With 9 goals in 14 appearances last season, Santana's prowess in front of the goal was beyond question.
Following the expiration of his loan deal, Santana became the subject of a bidding war among several clubs in the ISL. Manolo Marquez, the incoming coach of Hyderabad FC, eventually won his signature.
The Manolo Marquez impact
Appointing Manolo Marquez at the helm was a signal of intent from Hyderabad FC. The renaissance of the club began with one of the most experienced coaches in the world. It took all 32 years of Marquez's coaching experience to help the team have a respectable position on the table.
Strengthening the squad required Marquez to bring in the best players, especially those with good ISL experience. Signing the likes of Subrata Pal, Odei Onaindia, Halicharan Narzary, Lluis Sastre, and Joel Chianese saw Marquez fill the high-priority positions. Aridane Santana and Fran Sandaza rounded out a good squad, something Manolo Marquez could work with.
By his own admission, Aridane Santana was always looking forward to working with someone like Manolo Marquez. The manager had faced teams featuring Santana in the starting XI in the past. Therefore, the familiarity was a huge factor for their working relationship to blossom.
Aridane Santana: More than just a striker
Speaking to Sportskeeda ahead of the season, Aridane Santana had admitted that he is a striker who loves being involved in the thick of things.
"I am a striker who loves to constantly be involved in the action. I am happy to fall back and help my defense but my biggest impact will be in attack. I work hard on my positioning and try to be in the right place at the right time. I hope to contribute a lot of goals to the side," the Hyderabad FC striker had said.
Hyderabad FC's first game in the 2020-21 season of the ISL saw them face off against Odisha FC. The 1-0 win over Aridane Santana's former club saw Hyderabad FC break new ground as the club had their first-ever clean sheet.
Aridane Santana too got his name on the scoresheet for the first time in the new season. It was clear from the start that Santana would have a role to play in the renaissance of the Nizams.
The first five matches saw Hyderabad FC go unbeaten with two wins and 3 draws. The record further increased Santana's importance as the club captain. Besides, injuries to Joel Chianese and Lluis Sastre meant that Joao Victor, Aridane Santana, and Odei Onainidia were the only fit overseas players. And they didn't let their club down.
Having scored a majority of Hyderabad FC's goals, Aridane Santana is by far the most important part of the club's outfit. Even when Hyderabad FC couldn't manage to score a goal, Santana helped out defensively, keeping his word of trying to help the team in any way he can.
Needless to say, Aridane Santana will play a vital role in the Nizams' pursuit of a play-offs spot this season.Published 27 Dec 2020, 13:49 IST