ISL 2017: "ISL is a long way ahead of the I-League now," says Delhi Dynamos star Romeo Fernandes
The former FC Goa star spoke to Sportskeeda in an exclusive interview.
The Delhi Dynamos, after two semifinal heartbreaks in the last two seasons of the Indian Super League, will be eyeing their maiden title as the ISL 2017 kicks off on Friday. With no marquee foreign players in their side, the team management has opted to focus on creating a core of young and talented Indian players, a strategy that may prove to be crucial in what will be the longest ISL so far.
They have a number of star Indian players in their ranks such as Albino Gomes, Pritam Kotal, Seityasen Singh, Lallianzuala Chhangte etc. Another key player in attack will be former FC Goa star Romeo Fernandes, who has considerable experience of playing in the ISL under his belt and on his day, he can be truly unstoppable down the right wing.
After spending the past three seasons with FC Goa, the Dynamos will be a massive change for the 25-year-old, who till date remains one of the very few Indian players to have played for a foreign club, after his stint with Brazilian side Atletico Paranaense in 2015.
"It was a dream come true. Brazil is a nation associated with legends of the sport and it was a privilege to play there. I learned a lot in my time with Atletico," said the former Dempo and East Bengal starlet, speaking to Sportskeeda on the sidelines of the Dynamos' kit launch on Monday.
With the I-League and ISL all set to tun in parallel, Fernandes compared the two leagues and was quite clear which one is the bigger competition. "ISL is the big league by a long way now," he said. "In Kolkata, Mohun Bagan and East Bengal have a large number of fans."
"But in Goa, all the supporters are for FC Goa only. The ISL team is the biggest and hardly anyone follows the I-League there. So, ISL is much bigger now," said the former Red and Gold winger.
Fernandes also spoke about leaving FC Goa after three seasons with the club and how he is relishing the challenge with the capital side. "Yes, it is difficult moving from Goa. It is the first time I am playing away from home in the ISL and it is a challenge, I feel," he said.
"Now, it is a new challenge for me in Delhi and I am looking forward to playing here," he added.
"Pre-season was good and I have a great relationship with our coach. I have learnt a lot from him and I am hoping to put my best foot forward once the new season gets underway," said Fernandes, signing off.
Delhi kick off their season away to FC Pune City on November 22 and the ex-FC Goa star is expected to be in the starting line up. It will be interesting to see how he responds to this new challenge and if he can rekindle the form that made him one of the most dangerous players in the ISL in previous seasons!