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ISL 2016: Delhi Dynamos players urge fans to turn up in numbers for semifinal second leg

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1.10K   //    13 Dec 2016, 18:41 IST
Florent Malouda
Malouda has urged the Dynamos’ faithful to turn up in numbers

Delhi Dynamos face Kerala Blasters in the second leg of their semifinal of the ISL 2016 at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Delhi on Wednesday and their players have urged the fans to turn up in large numbers at the stadium.

Delhi face a 1-0 deficit after Kervens Belfort’s goal gave Kerala a win in front of their adoring faithful in Kochi. Ahead of the second leg, Florent Malouda, Chinglensana Singh and Milan Singh have urged the Delhi fans to create a similar atmosphere at their “Den” in Delhi.

Malouda, Delhi’s marquee player, has urged the Dynamos’ faithful to turn up in numbers in what is the Indian capital club’s biggest home game in the three years of the ISL. Last year, despite winning the first leg of the semifinal at home, the Dynamos were humbled by FC Goa in the away leg, getting beaten 3-0.

The Frenchman said, “We are playing the second leg at home, and we need the support of all the fans at the Den.”

Two of Delhi’s more important local players this season, Chinglensana and Milan have also urged the fans to support the team in large numbers. Sana and Milan are from the north-eastern part of the country and they urged the north-east contingent in Delhi to get behind their side.

Sana said, “My northeastern friends, it is a really important game for us, so I’m looking forward to seeing you at our den, the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.”

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In the 2016 season, Delhi have had an average attendance of 18,556 for their home games. That is a disappointing number, considering that the stadium has a capacity of 60,000.

But after a disastrous first year, Delhi have had two consistent seasons of ISL football. Roberto Carlos last year and now, Gianluca Zambrotta have forged an identity for the side, and they have stuck to it.

Last year, Delhi were strong defensively, led by John Arne Riise, their marquee signing. They conceded the second-fewest number of goals in the league. This time, led by Malouda and the Brazilian, Marcelinho, Delhi have played some fabulous attacking football, scoring 27 goals in the league stages, seven more than the next best, Chennaiyin FC.

In the first leg of the semifinal though, Delhi looked off-colour. They couldn’t get Malouda and Marcelinho on the ball enough, and their young Indian sensation Kean Lewis was very quiet too.

Zambrotta will definitely have a plan to overturn the deficit against Steve Coppell’s side but on such occasions, the crowd acting as the 12th man could provide a huge fillip to the players’ confidence and that is what the Dynamos are hoping to get.

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