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Hyderabad Win, Draw & Win A Game Again, Thanks To Roca-Colaco Magic

Leslie Xavier |
Liston Colaco’s brace in the last 10 minutes won Hyderabad FC a game they never should’ve had any chance of losing after taking a 2-0 lead. For NEUFC the wheels seem to have come off this season of the Indian Super League (ISL).
Liston Colaco of Hyderabad FC vs NEUFC

Liston Colaco (right) of Hyderabad FC celebrates after scoring the winner against NorthEast United FC in their Indian Super League match on Friday (Pic: ISL, Twitter).

Wonder if Parth Jindal and Bengaluru FC have taken notes. They could learn from Manuel Marquez Roca -- the other Roca, the non Bengaluru one -- on how it should be done. How to bounce back from a three-match losing streak in the Indian Super League (ISL). 

Roca puts it best too: Do something that is “not normal”. Just pump in four goals match after match — four to bounce back, four more in the next one to consolidate the gain in momentum, and there you go, the bitterness from the losses are banished. And with the latest victory — a 4-2 win over NorthEast United FC on Friday to add to the 4-1 against Chennaiyin FC a few days back — Hyderabad FC have climbed to third spot in the standings, while Liston Colaco has become a star in the reckoning. A perfect situation for both the player, the team, and the country even.

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The way it has all transpired, it is evident that the losses were not taken as bitter pills by Roca and Hyderabad, but lessons. They learnt to live with them, learn from them and about them, play around the mistakes, and, more importantly, win with the knowledge that losses are all but newspaper headlines from yesterday.  

Roca seems a good man, the right man with the right (like Jindal would say) philosophy to develop a side not only for the future but the present too. That’s a fine balance only a few coaches can manage. Roca seems to possess that. And he develops the side ensuring the Indian players are active cogs in the wheels of the juggernaut. Pity he coaches Hyderabad FC and not the Indian football team. Good for Hyderabad, in fact, good for the Indian team too. A thank you note from Igor Stimac is of the order here. And one from Jindal too for he now has a template on how to bounce back. Just that he does not have a Roca with him — not Albert, but ‘Manolo’.

Roca is an interesting character. After the third of his back-to-back losses, 1-2 scoreline against FC Goa, he was so brutally honest that he said he would not blame the management if he gets sacked. He attributed that loss to a formation faux pas in the latter half of the match. Lesson learnt. Next up was Chennaiyin. No big formation blunders there. If it was there no one would have noticed them. Goals have this ability to gloss over anything that goes amiss. 

There was a bit of a strategic tug-of-war on Friday though, with NEUFC fighting their way back in the first half to make it 2-2 at the break. Roca felt his men did play well, just that there was something amiss. He figured it quickly. It was focus and composure. And, he was diligent enough to look beyond anger for the answer. And the answer came in stepping up the tempo, in attacking to create results, and not wait for them to happen. Roca is not Antonio Habas, you see. Roca loves goals, Roca loves his strikers. And that was evident in the way he eloquently praised Aridane Santana as well as the now-polished Indian gem, Colaco.

"It's not normal to score four goals in back to back games. We know we have good players in offense. Aridane, Joel and Liston scored, finally. I love this guy. I am happy he scored this season,” said Roca after the match. 

Hyderabad took the lead early on. Santana struck in the third minute after a brilliant play from strike partner Joel Chianese, who cut inside and made his way into the box beating two markers. He then squared it for Santana to poke it past Subashish Roy Chowdhury. Santana has scored six goals this season. Roca loves him too.

Chianese made it 2-0 just after the half hour mark, the Aussie getting the better of three defenders this time before finding the back of the net from inside the box. 

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At this point one would have imagined smooth sailing for Hyderabad. But the match, despite the goals, was not one sided in the first half. NEUFC were showing spunk, which was rewarded in the dying minutes of the half. A Federico Gallego penalty and a goal from Benjamin Lambot off a corner meant things were even at the break. Roca revealed the side was unsettled with the late setbacks in the half. 

Roca wiped it all clean at half time. He asked his players to go back in as though it was 0-0. And then play it out the way they were playing, for he believed they played just fine and the two goals at the end were significant but momentary lapses. 

“We lost control with a penalty and the corner at the end of the first half,” said Roca. “In the second half, we attacked more than NEUFC and the scoreline was fair. I was very angry with some details but the performance of the players were good [in the first half]. You cannot lose concentration. I told them we had to play another 45 minutes with [the mine reset to the] score at 0-0.”

He did not want his players to lose concentration again. And the players obliged. In fact, they perhaps attained super conscious state, or at least Colaco did. Hyderabad hit NEUFC the way they hit them, late in the second half, through their super sub in the 85th and added time. 

Colaco was brought on at the hour mark. His first goal was as sublime as it gets. In fact, post match, the Goan explained that it was a goal he was working on in training but never could perfect. Well the perfection happened on matchday. No wonder Roca says he loves him. After receiving the ball on the left, Colaco beat three markers before curling his shot into the top corner of the NEUFC goal. He then added a second one with a neat finish after being assisted by Santana to complete the victory.

Four goals! Post match, the first thing one did was Google the date of the next matchday  for this brilliant team in yellow. One would love to follow this side. After those losses, pundits had deemed them a lower mid table side. Now they sit with Mumbai City and a low-scoring, bus parking side for company. It is not just about the goals though, to be fair to ATK Mohun Bagan. It is the way Hyderabad FC plays. There is something in them. Something refreshing. Something young. Something Colaco-ish, which no Roy Krishna can bring about in an Indian fan, no matter how much he scores and how desi his name sounds.

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