2nd Div I-League Team Profile : Fateh Hyderabad AFC
About the team
One of the youngest teams in the League, Fateh Hyderabad were established in 2015. The only team from Hyderabad in the 2nd Division I-League, the club is built on the ethos of grassroots development and sustainable growth. The club is co-owned by their first team coach Yogesh Maurya, who left a corporate white collar job to invest in the club.
Since their inception, they have roped in football youth expert Tom Byer as co-owner of the club. Tom has already lead a revolution of sorts in Japan, where he has become one of the most respected coaches in Asia. With a U-16 and a U-18 team besides the first team (and plans of a U-13 team), the club seems to be investing in the right areas.
On the football pitch they have come on leaps and bounds, learning from their knee-jerk first season in the second division of the I-League, they seem to have invested in the right players, and for the first time in their small history, reached the 2nd round of the I League’s second division.
Previous year’s second division's performances
Fateh Hyderabad were clearly out of their depth in the first season as a club in the second division. They were in the Group A with the likes of Kolkata giants Mohammedan Sporting and finished at the bottom of the group table.
Out of the eight games they played, they lost six of those games, but drawing one and losing one of the two fixtures to Imphal-based club NEROCA.
1st Round performance this season
Fateh finished first in Group C table, ahead of the likes of Kenkre FC and probably more surprisingly Bangalore club Ozone FC. The club from Hyderabad finished the season unbeaten, the only team to do so in any of the groups in the I-League second division.
They topped their group with a tally of 12 points, only bettered by NERCOA in Group B. Their form away from home though is the real big positive, where they picked up 7 out a possible 9. Here’s the fill list of fixtures and their results.
20th Jan - Fateh Hyderabad AFC 2-0 Pride Sports FC
27th Jan - Kenkre FC 0-0 Fateh Hyderabad AFC
5th Feb- Fateh Hyderabad AFC 0-0 Ozone FC
9th Feb- Fateh Hyderabad AFC 0-0 Kenkre FC
16th Feb – Ozone FC 1-2 Fateh Hyderabad AFC
24th Feb – Pride Sports 0-3 Fateh Hyderabad AFC
Target in the final round
The target as any of the other team will be to be in the I-League the next season. They might have taken the division by surprise with their brand of pragmatic but effective football, but as it was proved in the previous rounds, names and reputation go out of the window in the 2nd Division.
Having said that, as only one team is expected to be promoted to the I-League next season, and them having been in existence for just over two years, a second or third place finish might be accepted.
Players to Watch out for
Gurutej Singh is the undisputed leader of the team, having had the experience to play for the likes of JCT, Pilan Arrows, Sporting Goa and Bengaluru FC. He is a strong central defender, good in the air, aggressive and a natural leader.
There is a nice core of Indian talent in goalkeeper Kunzang Bhutia who was among the ranks of NorthEast United during the first season of the ISL.
Lalrozama Fanai has also had a decent season and has experience with the likes of Bengaluru FC and Mohun Bagan.
However the player to watch out is Bruno, the Brazilian forward is deceptive and can finish well. Although he is still to come into his own for Fateh, anything good the team from Hyderabad does is likely to come through this man.
The coach and his influence
The story of Yogesh Maurya is a unique one, especially in modern football. He is one of the majority owners of the club, and also the head coach, a combination rarely seen. As he was too old to get an AFC D license, he decided to go to England get his coaching batches from there, and now he holds an AFC B license.
Despite finishing last in their group last season, he swallowed the criticism and guided his team back to where he thinks they should be. He builds his teams from the back, and as seen, their success has been built on the foundation of their back five.
His approach to the game summed up in his own words, “We do not have last names on the back of our jerseys and will not because we believe the name on the front will always be more important than any last name across the back.”
Expectations in the final round
They are the bright new boys, and expectations aren’t very high for them. One of Southern Samity and NERCOA are probably more likely to usurp the men from the South. But, no one gave them a chance during the group stages as well, but here they are, against all odds.
What will they bring to the I-League?
Apart from the first Hyderabad team, and more of the whole ‘Pan-India’ feel, professionalism. Despite the amount of money that has been put in the club, things have been run very well and effectively.
They have a vision, and a plan for the next 10 years, which although rare in Indian football is very refreshing to see.
The club’s ability to survive in the I-League if promoted
The investment at the club so far has all been with a ‘bottom-up’ approach in mind, but if they do manage to win the 2nd division and get to the I-League they will need a lot of new faces. A lot more investment in the club in the short term, and probably a new coach.
If they do the right things, as a club, they can definitely hold their own. But, if it’s the same squad of players playing in the I-League, difficult starts looking like impossible.
Goalkeepers - Kunzang Bhutia; Anand Mamgain
Defenders - Gurtej Singh; Adam Mitter; Manoj Swamy Kanan; Jaybrata Dhar; Lalrozama Fanai; Sarensingh Sareo; Abdul Hakku; Ponif Vaz
Midfielders - Nitin Jyal; Rinreithan Shaiza; Shivam Pandey; Nima Tamang; Paoginmang Khongsai; Khaidem Vicky Meitei; Luis Carlos Nogueira Santos
Forwards - Abhishek Rai; Bonison Singh; Bruno Bryan Gomes Des Ries
Final Round Fixtures
1) Fateh Hyderabad AFC vs Lonestar Kashmir FC - 8th April (Sat)
2) Fateh Hyderabad AFC vs Delhi United FC - 12th April (Wed)
3) Fateh Hyderabad AFC vs Neroca FC - 16th April (Sun)
4) Lonestar Kashmir FC vs Fateh Hyderabad AFC - 25th April (Tue)
5) Fateh Hyderabad AFC vs Southern Samity - 29th April (Sat)
6) Delhi United FC vs Fateh Hyderabad AFC - 4th May (Thu)
7) Fateh Hyderabad vs Kenke FC - 9th May (Tue)
8) Neroca FC vs Fateh Hyderabad AFC - 14th May (Sun)
9) Southern Samity vs Fateh Hyderabad AFC - 22nd May (Mon)
10) Kenkre FC vs Fateh Hyderabad AFC - 28th May (Sun)