Hyderabad: When Hyderabad FC made its entry in the ISL 2019, football fraternity in the city believed that it was a welcome change that could revive football in the city.
However, the Hyderabad team which replaced Pune City FC fielded almost the same set of players in the ISL 2019, denying opportunities to footballers in the city, disappointing many including former internationals and officials. The city had a glorious past in football and had produced a total of 14 Olympians and 21 international footballers, including former national captains Shabbir Ali, Victor Amalraj, Peter Thanjaraj and the legendary coach Syed Abdul Rahim.
“Hyderabad FC team is based in Pune. They are just migrants. They just landed here. They should have done some homework. They don’t have contacts with Sports Authority of Telangana State (SATS) or Telangana Football Association (TFA). I am happy that a club like HFC is here. I am happy that the crowd is coming. It is a big boost. But they have to know the ground reality. They created hype. But money can’t win you matches. The results are really poor,” Victor Amalraj, former Indian captain from the city said.
HFC is having a disappointing run in the ISL, and are sitting at the bottom of the points table with five points from nine matches. Amalraj, a keen observer of the game, also said he is disappointed that no players from the State are part of the club.
“The quality of football in the city has completely come down. We also agree to that. After the 1990s, there was no football in the city. There was some infighting going on the association. That is a big drawback.” “Several players in Hyderabad FC are way past their prime age and that is why the team was down with injuries. In order to generate new talent, there should be enough work done at the grassroots level.”
Telangana Football Association (TFA) secretary GP Palguna is happy that young footballers from the city are getting an opportunity to watch ISL matches but expressed disappointment that no players from the State are part of the squad. “HFC team management is focusing on last year’s players. So they didn’t conduct any selection trials here. When I questioned them, they said they will consider our players next year.”
The State football association is putting in efforts to attract young players into football. “We are conducting the Baby League. The parents are also encouraging youngsters. When TFA organised selections for the Professional League in Gymkhana, around 147 girls from the State were present. This is a significant achievement.”
Amalraj also emphasised on the need to conduct more tournaments. “In our time, we had a lot of tournaments like Nizam’s Gold Cup. But most of them have vanished now. Modern football has given more opportunities to the players and new Academies too have come up. In our time, there were no live matches for club football. However, several great players and clubs used to play here. HFC should coordinate their activities well to develop the game in the city.” HFC team owners were not available for comments.