Hyderabad boss Manuel Marquez was honest with his analysis of the game – he called it boring.
Hyderabad had over 60 per cent possession of the ball against NorthEast United but found it difficult to make use of that advantage in their 2020-21 Indian Super League (ISL) clash on Sunday.
Both teams were level on points and positioned third and fourth on the points table heading into Sunday’s fixture. They ensured that nothing changed after 90 minutes of football between two playoff contenders.
Hyderabad have shown that they can play attacking football this season. NorthEast United have proved their mettle since Khalid Jamil took over from Gerard Nus and defeated the likes of Mumbai City and ATK Mohun Bagan already by playing counter-attacking football.
But if the supporters expected a high-scoring entertainer, they would have turned off their screens in utter disappointment. The contest was drearily dull and as Hyderabad boss Manuel Marquez termed it after the game, ‘boring!’.
“It was a very boring game. Both teams played without freedom and were very slow on the ball. We had to try something more because they played only three days ago. But if you look at teams after rest, only one team won their first game after the break. Maybe all the teams are tired but it is not an excuse. Maybe we had one or two chances but not clear-cut.”
The starting lineup that Khalid Jamil put out was surprising due to the absence of Deshorn Brown who only made the bench and came on in the second half. While the coach later revealed that it was due to an injury, Idrissa Sylla has not proved to be a strong threat up front, with just two goals and no assists in 15 matches this season.
Hyderabad were dominant in midfield, spraying passes out to the flanks and sending crosses into the box for Aridane Santana and Fran Sandaza. Asish Rai was particularly effective down the right flank and his crosses were threatening but the NorthEast defence, led by Benjamin Lambot and Dylan Fox, were more than ready for the task.
Resilient defending helped the Highlanders tie the Nizams down as they played too many passes to very little effect. The attack versus defence strategy, with no end product, made for drab viewing towards the end.
Lambot had a chance to head in a match-winner from a Gallego delivery into the box right at the end of the game. Similarly, Liston Colaco also had a shot on target which was straight at the goalkeeper. But there was no winner on the day.