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ISL 2020-21: Are teams of six foreigners having more trouble?

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Hyderabad FC and Odisha FC suffered the most after signing only six foreigners…

Odisha FC are in 10th place with just two points from seven matches. Hyderabad is a bit affluent with nine out of six games, but certainly struggles to secure victories. These two teams, aside from their struggles on the pitch, have one thing in common: they chose to enter just six foreigners instead of the total quota of seven.

If two players are injured, the coach has no choice but to field a team without making the most of the allowed quota of five foreign players. Hyderabad has been the most unfortunate victim of this campaign as it has been ravaged by injuries from key players from the start.

Fran Sandaza is yet to take the pitch, as he has treated an injury, while Joel Chianese and Lluis Sastre only managed to play one and two games respectively. Manager Manuel Marquez has had the luxury of fielding the five foreigners in the starting lineup just once this season, against Bengaluru FC. However, even in this match, Hyderabad couldn’t field five foreigners during the 90 minutes.

In most matches the Spaniard has only fielded three faces away from home and against ATK Mohun Bagan the number has dropped to two, highlighting the manager’s misery. With a little luck, the Indian players mobilize and Aridane Santana’s prowess at the start, the Nizams do not languish like Odisha at the bottom. But they are starting to realize the cost of entering the fixtures with only six strangers.

Meanwhile, the Mastodons had difficulties in almost all departments of the field. Arguably their best team player Marcelinho struggles to get minutes for reasons better known to the manager. But what is clear is that the team was not built around its strengths.

The team are clamoring for new momentum but their options are limited on the bench as the think tank thought they could manage with six foreign players. Diego Mauricio, after a good start, got lost a bit before scoring against NorthEast United. Manuel Onwu doesn’t get wide area services, Cole Alexander seems to run out of gas in midfield to dictate proceedings, while the defensive pair of Steven Taylor and Jacob Tratt are as fragile as a porcelain vase.

In this sort of situation, where most players are going through a rough patch, it’s always best to have that extra option on the bench which just might turn out to be the difference factor. And Baxter, who desperately needs a messiah, desperately needs this seventh stranger.

FC Goa is another team that has chosen to sign six foreign players. Although the Gaurs don’t struggle as much as Hyderbad and Odisha. But they are certainly far from the best. It’s not easy to replace people like Ahmed Jahouh and Hugo Boumous and Goa needs that anchor in the center of the park that can control the game from a deep position.

They have Alberto Noguera in their ranks, but this season it is essential to have cover for these key players.

Like, Juan Ferrando chose to turn against Jamshedpur FC and left out the Spanish midfielder, which created a vacuum. In Noguera’s absence, Edu Bedia was forced to operate from a deeper position and as a result, there was no one up front who could unlock Jamshedpur’s defense. Therefore, it’s no surprise that Goa had to rely on set pieces to get all three points in the game.

Due to the coronavirus, teams have not had the opportunity to perform a proper preseason, resulting in more frequent injuries. Team rotation has become the order of the day. In these circumstances, having a strong team has become the key to success. But by recruiting just six foreign players, the teams have given the manager enough options.