Last season, Delhi Dynamos attempted to create success with a passing style of football under then head coach Miguel Angel Portugal. It conjured 8,703 passes in 18 matches (the third highest among all clubs), 10,900 touches (the fourth highest), 295 crosses (the highest) for 27 goals (the fifth highest), yet finished eighth due to an ineffective defensive performance, conceding 37 goals. While the new head coach — former Barcelona B manager Josep Gombau — advocates a similar approach for the new season, he is understandably keen on a fresh-looking team with many new personnel to “stop the gaps” and “make sure there is equal balance on all parts of the field when we step out.”
Much of the responsibility for this has to be shouldered by old warhorses Narayan Das — who contributed to FC Goa’s strong performance last season with 38 interceptions from 19 matches — and Pritam Kotal, and also by foreign recruits Marti Crespi Pascual and Gianni Zuiverloon.
Having parted ways with forward Kalu Uche — the highest goal-scorer for Dynamos last season with 13 goals from 15 matches — the strength of this new team would be in midfield. Marcos Tebar, Rene Mihelic, Bikramjit Singh, Adria Carmona and Romeo Fernandes would form the bulk of experience. Twenty-year-old Vinit Rai, who possesses a passing accuracy of 85 percent, and 21-year-old Lallianzuala Chhangte would be expected to provide the X-factor.
Providing experience in attack would be Serbian Andrija Kaluderovic, who will shepherd the likes of Daniel Lahlimpuia.
The team’s big challenge this season would be to negotiate the second fortnight of October — it plays five matches in 13 days. To avoid tiring the players, rotation seems to be essential, but the management would hope it doesn’t disrupt the momentum or rhythm gained until then.
Having had a pre-season training in Kolkata, where Gombau says “the players are responding well to the methods” and “coordinating and gelling well with each other,” Dynamos embarks upon a tour of Qatar, where it plays three friendlies.
Player to watch out for
The Spanish midfielder will be back in Dynamos’ whites after a year of separation. Playing for FC Pune City last season, not only did he rack up 848 passes — among the top 10 among all players — he executed them with an accuracy of 81.72 per cent.
The 32-year-old, who featured in Dynamos’ semifinal finish in 2016, will be a vital component as it seeks to put behind last season’s lacklustre campaign.
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