New Delhi: Delhi Dynamos and Chennaiyin FC will begin their second matches of the India Super League (ISL) at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here on Thursday on an even keel after suffering demoralising defeats in their opening games of the competition.
Both teams have garnered considerable attention in the transfer market, managing big-money signings and are expected to fight for the semi-final spots at the league phase.
But their opening match performances have hardly matched their ambitions. While Dynamos were beaten by hosts FC Goa 0-2, Chennaiyin were on the receiving end of a 2-3 scoreline against defending champions Atletico de Kolkata at home.
Dynamos made the biggest noise in the transfer market after landing Brazilian legend Roberto Carlos in a marquee player-manager role, French great Florent Malouda and Norwegian star John Arne Riise, hoping to over come their last season misadventure, when they failed to qualify for the last four.
Carlos had claimed his team will adopt a bold offensive approach in search of goals but his team hardly did justice to his promise in their opening match against Goa.
Carlos was forced to introduce himself in a midfield role, after going 0-2 down in the first half, hoping to bring more fluidity and purpose to their midfield. But it was too tall an order for the 42-year-old who was hardly comfortable in running up and down the pitch and was restricted to attempting long range shots.
He admitted he wants to play from the beginning but is not in a shape to play for 90 minutes. “I want to play. But it is hard for me. Let the juniors play. I will help them out in the second half, if required,” Carlos said in a pre-match press conference here on Wednesday.
The Brazilian was visibly agitated at his team’s disjointed effort and was seen barking instructions from the touchline in the first half, but it proved futile.
His decision to employ his team’s other two distinguished players, Riise and Malouda, in unfamiliar roles as a defender and a central midfielder, respectively, also didn’t yield the desired results.
Carlos said his team has to galvanise quickly and start producing results, identifying their opponents as one of the toughest teams of the tournament he expects a keen contest.
Carlos added he has identified the deficiencies in his team’s play against FC Goa and has offered solutions to those, speaking to the players, individually and collectively, demanding more mobility from them.
“I spoke to them. We lost because of individual mistakes. Told them to cover more parts of the ground. In such a short championship, we cannot afford to make much mistakes.”
Chennaiyin’s defeat against defending champions Atletico de Kolkata (ATK) must have invoked similar sentiments in their Italian coach Marco Materazzi.
They were badly let down by individual errors, that contributed to two of the three goals conceded against ATK.
“Yes, we conceded silly goals. We know our mistakes. We are working on it,” the team’s assistant coach Vivek Nagul said.
They retained Brazilian star Elano Blumer as their marquee player, Colombian forward John Stiven Mendoza and signed ATK duo of Apoula Edel Bete and Fikru Teferra, hoping to add more arsenal to their goal-scoring unit.
But a half-fit Fikru, who was expected to exact revenge on ATK after they didn’t renew his contract, failed to score though he got plum scoring opportunities.
The Ethiopian marksman made way for Mendoza in the second half in order to aggravate his leg injury and Nagul said they could repeat that strategy on Thursday.
But despite letting in three goals, they will continue to be aggressive and push forward and won’t be extra-cautious in their approach, Nagul added.