ISL: Delhi Dynamos going for broke

Miguel Angel Portugal is the new man in charge of taking the team past the semifinals — a stage where it has faltered twice in a row. And he will be hoping to do it with a completely new side.

Pritam Kotal ATK Delhi Dynamos ISL

Pritam Kotal, who was with ATK in the 2016 season, was purchased by Dynamos' as its most expensive signing this year.   -  ISL/SPORTZPICS

Before the player draft for the Indian Super League Season Four, Delhi Dynamos had decided to completely overhaul its team. On and off the field, in the boardroom as well as the stadium, the Delhi-based franchise, in search of the elusive title, changed personnel.

The team is now largely owned by US-based GMS Incorporated, representing Wall Street Investments. On the field, Miguel Angel Portugal is the new man in charge of taking the team past the semifinals — a stage where it has faltered twice in a row. And he will be hoping to do it with a completely new side. (Dynamos is the only team that did not retain a single player ahead of the draft, rebuilding itself from Ground Zero.)

                                                           Past performance

2016: Matches played: 16; Goals scored: 27; Marcelinho (10); Result: Finished third.

2015: Matches played: 16; Goals scored: 18; Top scorers: Richard Gadze and Robin Singh (four each); Result: Finished fourth.

2014: Matches played: 14; Goals scored: 16; Top scorer: Gustavo Dos Santos (five); Result: Finished fifth.

The 61-year-old Spaniard has opted for a mix of youth and experience to do that, letting go of the stars from the previous editions including players like Richard Gadze (Ghana) and Marcelo Leite Pareira (Brazil), better known as Marcelinho, who was the Golden Boot winner in 2016 with 10 goals. Coming in are players such as Pritam Kotal, Lallianzuala Chhangte, Albino Gomes and Seityasen Singh, as Dynamos looks to strengthen its Indian base.

RELATED: 1) We wore masks during practice in Delhi, says coach Miguel

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Among the foreign recruits who would play key roles are veteran Nigerian striker Kalu Uche, Brazilian midfielder Paulinho Dias and Venezuelan defender Gabriel Cichero. Of these, Uche, 34, who turned out for Pune City FC in 2015, would be the key in not only keeping the goals coming but also bringing in the experience needed to hold the team together in crunch situations, specially given the lack of experience in the Dynamos’ ranks. Interestingly, Pereira has now moved to Pune.

Dynamos has had a mixed bag in its pre-season, losing three of its five games abroad in Spain and Qatar, but winning both its practice matches at home so far.

Delhi Dynamos’ goal would be manned by Albino Gomes, who won the I-League with Aizawl FC (he was on loan from Mumbai City FC), but any injury to the 23-year-old would mean a big void, given the lack of experience in the department. Arnab Das Sharma and Sukhadev Patil, 19, are the other goalkeepers.

The team has talented youngsters like Lallianzuala and Jayananda Singh, who was part of the India Under-19 side, upfront to get the goals. There will also be Romeo Fernandes and Nanda Kumar, who will be teaming up with Paulinho — making his first overseas appearance, having played in Brazil all his life in the midfield. Dynamos also has Kotal and Sena Ralte at the back, along with Rowilson Rodrigues.

While the talent is unmistakably there in the team, the proven fire-power is not. Dynamos has gone for broke — it will either unearth new talent in India football or it will be a disaster. Despite being one of the most consistent sides in the League, Delhi Dynamos has failed to reach the final so far. With a new look and new names in its ranks, the only team from North India in the fray would be hoping to do better this time.

CELEBRITY SPEAK

Jacqueline Fernandez (Bollywood actress)

“I am really excited and looking forward to interacting with the fans in Delhi. Delhi Dynamos is a team that has been consistent in its performances over the years and hopefully this time we can win the ISL together.”                                                       

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