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ISL 2020-21: Are teams with six foreigners struggling more?

Hyderabad FC and Odisha FC have suffered the most for signing just six foreigners…

Odisha FC find themselves in the 10th spot with just two points from seven games. Hyderabad are a little well off with nine from six matches but are certainly struggling to get the wins. Both these teams, apart from their on-field hardships, have one thing in common- they have chosen to register just six foreigners instead of the full quota of seven. 

If a couple of players get injured then the coach does not have an option but to field a team without making the most of the permitted quota of five overseas players. Hyderabad have been the most unfortunate victim in this campaign as they have been ravaged by injuries to key players since the beginning. 

Fran Sandaza is yet to take the pitch, as he has been nursing an injury, whereas, Joel Chianese and Lluis Sastre have had managed to play only one and two games respectively. Manager Manuel Marquez has had the luxury to field all five foreigners in the starting line-up only once in this season, that was against Bengaluru FC. However, even in that game, Hyderabad could not field five foreigners throughout the 90 minutes.

In most games, the Spaniard has been fielding only three overseas faces and against ATK Mohun Bagan the number came down to two, which highlights the misery of the manager. With a bit of luck, Indian players stepping up and Aridane Santana’s prowess upfront, the Nizams are not languishing like Odisha at the bottom. But they are starting to realise the cost of going into the fixtures with just six foreigners. 

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Meanwhile, the Juggernauts have struggled in almost every department on the pitch. Arguably their best player in the squad, Marcelinho, is struggling to get minutes for reasons best known to the coach. But what is clear is that the team has not been built around his strengths. 

The team is clamouring for some fresh impetus 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, lost his way a little bit before scoring against NorthEast United. Manuel Onwu is not getting the services from the wide areas, Cole Alexander looks short of gas in midfield to dictate proceedings whereas Steven Taylor and Jacob Tratt’s defensive pairing is as brittle as a porcelain vase.

In this kind of situation, where most of the players are going through a rough patch it is always better to have that one extra option on the bench who might just turn out to be the difference-maker. And Baxter who is desperate for a messiah is in dire need of that seventh foreigner. 

FC Goa is another side who has opted to sign six overseas players. Although the Gaurs are not struggling to the extent of Hyderbad and Odisha. But they are definitely far from their fluent best. It is not easy to replace the likes of Ahmed Jahouh and Hugo Boumous and Goa need that anchor in the centre of the park who can control the game from a deep-lying position. 

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

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Like, Juan Ferrando chose to rotate against Jamshedpur FC and left out the Spanish midfielder which created a void. In Noguera’s absence, Edu Bedia was forced to operate from a deeper position and hence they was no one up front who could unlock Jamshedpur’s defence. Therefore, it is no surprise that Goa had to rely on set-pieces to get the three points from the match. 

Due to the Coronavirus, the teams have not got the opportunity to carry out a proper preseason, which is leading to more frequent injuries. Rotating the squad has become the order of the day. In these circumstances, having a strong squad has become the key to success. But by signing just six foreign players, the teams have given enough options to the manager.

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