Delhi eye top spot as NEUFC clash beckons

Delhi have 12 points with a game in hand and a win would help them open up a two-point lead over current toppers FC Pune City. Delhi have won four of their six games so far, including a fighting 1-0 win with ten men against defending champions Atletico de Kolkata in their previous outing, when substitute Gustavo Dos Santos hit home in the final minute of extra time.

Returning after almost a month for its second outing this season on home turf, coach Roberto Carlos would hope his side go on top of the table when they host struggling NorthEast United FC on Tuesday.   -  Snehal Patel

Returning after almost a month for their second outing this season on home turf, Delhi Dynamos will be hoping to go on top of the table when they take on struggling NorthEast United FC here on Tuesday.

Delhi have 12 points with a game in hand and a win would help them open up a two-point lead over current toppers FC Pune City. Delhi have won four of their six games so far, including a fighting 1-0 win with ten men against defending champions Atletico de Kolkata in their previous outing, when substitute Gustavo Dos Santos hit home in the final minute of extra time.

Coach-manager-marquee player Roberto Carlos, though, is quick to remind his players not to get complacent. “Sometimes the table doesn't show the skills of each team. NEUFC is a great team with great players. We are going to struggle to win tomorrow, it will be very tough. We have been through that when we played against Mumbai. I hope we don’t have the same result as [against] Mumbai,” Carlos said on the eve of the match here. Delhi had lost 0-2 to Mumbai FC.

NEUFC, on the other hand, need to get their act together to have any hope of staying in the race for the knock-out stage. Lying seventh in the eight-team league, they have lost four of their six games so far, including a 5-1 thrashing at Mumbai in the last game. But coach Cesar Farias is aware that a couple of good performances can still keep his team in contention for a semi-final spot.

“All the teams are very even, so every game brings a different story. We will look to control the ball and keep a clean sheet. We will stay compact and sharpen our attacks. In the last game, we gave away two penalties which were accidental handballs. It’s not common to have two handballs in the box in the same game,” Farias said.

Farias would also be hoping his key players, including likely skipper Simao and defender Cedric Hengbart, come good. “When you lose, you do not see many positives, but there were positives and we hope to get the result we need,” the former Venezuela manager said.

There are areas of concern for Delhi as well. The team has only managed five goals in its six outings while also holding the unflattering record of having committed the most fouls in the competition (104). With midfielder Souvik Chakraborty serving a one-match suspension, Carlos may also have to rejig his plans.

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