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ISL 2022 final.

The most telling aspect about Hyderabad FC and their title-winning campaign was perhaps how they injected belief into themselves whenever the situation demanded.

Prior to the 2020-21 season of the Indian Super League (ISL), Hyderabad FC (HFC) seemed a team in turmoil.

They had been founded a year ago and had slumped to a bottom-placed finish at the first time of asking.

They tried Albert Roca at the helm, hoping that the Spaniard would, like he did at Bengaluru FC, take them to promised land. That, though, fell flat once FC Barcelona and Ronald Koeman came calling.

At the time, Manolo Marquez, who had built up a decent reputation for nurturing youngsters, was looked upon as a stop-gap signing.

His previous work in Spain demanded recognition. Yet, it wasn’t the sort of statement acquisition that made the rest of the ISL sit up and take notice.

As that season progressed, Hyderabad FC started leaving their mark. Not just because they began stringing victories

And positive results together, but because they, for large swathes of that season, relied on an Indian core — a core many felt wasn’t good enough to compete on a regular basis.

Thus, before the 2021-22 season, there was plenty of intrigue surrounding Hyderabad FC.

They retained most of those players (apart from the notable departure of Liston Colaco) and ensured that they had some sort of continuity.

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