KOZHIKODE: From producing such legendary footballers like Syed Abdul Rahim, Peter Thangaraj and Shabbir Ali to being thrashed left, right and centre by teams like Services and Tamil Nadu, football in Hyderabad has been in the doldrums for quite a long now.
In their opening game, Telangana went down to defending champions Services 7-0. On Sunday, Tamil Nadu ran riot over them scoring four goals without reply. They will now have an opportunity to save some pride when they take on Lakshadweep on Tuesday. “When you lose 7-0 and 4-0, you cannot be happy with the performance,” said Telangana coach Yogesh Maurya.
“But we have to recognise the situation in Hyderabad. There are not enough matches taking place and the players aren’t fully fit,” he said. The coach feels the everyone has turned a blind eye to the sport. “As a culture, Hyderabad have come to accept mediocre standards. The entire community — the football association, the players, and the coaches — is happy with mediocrity whether it is scheduling of matches, player performances and fitness levels or how the players are taught.”
“We are lacking a lot in player development. We have to look in the mirror and ask ourselves if this is what we want,” he said. “It is painful, we have to improve our standards,” he added.
Though the coach would decline to comment, it is also well known that the Telangana football is full of politicking from the grassroots level all the way to the selection of the Santosh Trophy squad. But being one of the agents of change in Hyderabad football in recent times, Maurya has ideas to improve the state of affair and he is trying to implement them through I-League second division side Fateh Hyderabad AFC of which he is the co-owner and technical director.
“We want to compete well in this year’s second division too and lift the clubs around us. We need more people interested in developing Hyderabad football, but you cannot play in the I-League with just the Hyderabad players,” Maurya noted.
“There are a lot of things happening at the community level, but when it comes to elite football, it has been stagnant. The whole community has to believe in what they do to change the situation,” he said.
“At Fateh, we are investing in young footballers and in the next few years, we will have a lot more Hyderabad-based players in the club’s first team. But until then, you cannot expect us to vie for I-League promotion with a squad full of Hyderabad players,” Maurya signed off.