On a rare off day, Delhi Dynamos FC, the only Hero Indian Super League club representing the North of India, lost to Kerala Blasters FC on 11th December in the first leg of their playoff in the Hero Indian Super League 2016. The Gianluca Zambrotta-coached side suffered a narrow 1-0 defeat in Kochi thanks to a Kervens Belfort goal in the second half. The Lions now host the Blasters, in what will be their most crucial game of the current campaign, in the second leg on 14th of December at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, New Delhi.
The Dynamos were a bit off-colour in the first leg but nonetheless had their chances. The Dynamos’ forward line including impressive winger Kean Lewis and the tournament’s top goalscorer Marcelinho tested the opposition keeper and defences, but were thwarted by the home side buoyed by their massive home support.
For their home leg, the Lions have urged their fans to turn up at the stadium in numbers to support the team and help them get over the line on for the all-important clash. They also have as many as 7 players from the Northeast in their ranks, and have and they have specially reached out to the vast community of fans from the region who reside in Delhi, urging them to support the Lions and back them.
Speaking about the importance of the fans ahead of the massive game, one of the stars of the season for Delhi Dynamos, Milan Singh said, “We really need as much support as possible to put on our best show against Kerala Blasters in the home leg in order to make it to the final. Having the crowd behind your back means a lot for players, and can really push them.”
Though the Lions suffered a narrow defeat on the night, there were still plenty of positives after a typically fighting display that has embodied their performances this season. The two wingers were always a threat with their pace and directness and although he had a quiet night in terms of goals, lanky striker Richard Gadze was a physical presence throughout. At the other end, Souvik Chakrabarti put in sterling shift against the in-form CK Vineeth while Anas Edathodika marshaled the back four well, greatly nullifying Kerala’s attacking prowess.
Delhi Dynamos Head Coach Gianluca Zambrotta knows that this will be the toughest test his team has faced in this season. Talking to the media at the pre-match press conference ahead of the crunch game, he said, “We have analysed the last match and we have to get better. We need to play according to our way and keep possession of the ball.”
“We know that this is the last match at home. Tomorrow would be an open match and a difficult game. Kerala Blasters is a good and strong team and we need to be positive and play a very good game”, he added.
When asked about the opposing team, Zambrotta said, “Kerala is a very good team and they play very well in counterattack. We lost 1-0, and from tonight we have to think about the next match and try to recover.”
When asked about the most dangerous player in the opposing ranks, Zambrotta said, “There is no specific player, they all are very good players. It will be not right for us to focus on any one individual. They are a strong team.”
The first game between the two teams in Kochi earlier in the season ended in a goalless draw while the Lions won 2-0 on home soil thanks to goals from Lewis and Marcelinho. In the overall head-to-head both teams have two wins each with three draws.
With the tie effectively at half-time and only one goal to make up, all is still to play. The Lions will be keen to make the most of home advantage in the second leg. Indeed, the Dynamos are the only team to remain unbeaten at home in the Hero ISL 2016 season with three wins and four draws.
Delhi’s World Cup-winning manager Gianluca Zamrotta who has led the team impeccably with his astute tactics has a fully fit squad with no injuries or suspensions ahead of the clash.