ISL 2018-19: Delhi Dynamos Season Preview, Squad, Probable XI, Prediction
- The Dynamos made it to the semifinal of the league on two occasions. Will they make it to their first ever final this season?
The wait for India's biggest and most exciting football tournament is finally about to get over as the 5th season of the Indian Super League (ISL) is just upon us. GMS Group-owned Delhi Dynamos has been one team which have always shown glimpses of brilliance but never really upped their game to such a level that they make it to the final.
The Dynamos made it to the semifinal of the league on two occasions, in 2015 and 2016, respectively. They narrowly missed out on reaching the semifinal by one point in the inaugural 2014 edition. The team did reasonably well under Roberto Carlos and Gianluca Zambrotta, but in the previous season, when the Spaniard Miguel Ángel Portugal took charge as Head coach of the team, the Dynamos had a disastrous campaign.
The Delhi-based franchise had a poor record in ISL 2018-17, as they won only 5, drew 4, and lost 9 of their 18 matches, finishing at the 8th position in the table. However, they were the side to concede the maximum number of goals in the tournament -- 37 of them -- which were worrying signs for the management of the Dynamos.
Since then, a lot has changed, and Delhi is looking like a much more promising unit. There have been a lot of changes in the backroom staff as well as a lot of new signings. Spanish player Josep Gombau Balague will be taking charge of the Dynamos for ISL 2018-19.
Delhi Dynamos Squad
The Dynamos have a lot of new and interesting additions to their squad, and they are touted to be the surprise package of the season. There have been a total of 14 -- 7 Indian and 7 foreign -- players who have put pen to paper for the Delhi-based franchise.
The Indian signings include Daniel Lalhlimpuia, Shayan Roy, Bikramjit Singh, Pradeep Mohanraj, Narayan Das, Rana Gharami, and Siam Hanghal. Meanwhile, the foreign players who have been roped in by Delhi are Martin Crespi, Marcos Tebar, Andrija Kaluderovic, Rene Mihelic, Adria Carmona, Francisco Dorronsoro, and Gianni Zuiverloon.
The most promising amongst these are the Spaniard Marcos Tebar, who reunites with the team, and Slovenian footballer Rene Mihelic. Both of these players have prior experience of playing in the Indian Super League.
While 32-year-old Marcos was with FC Pune City in the previous season, Rene was extremely impressive for eventual champions Chennaiyin FC in the last season and is also a dead ball specialist. Both of these players have vast experience playing in the midfield and will be seen as Delhi's key playmakers this season.
31-year-old striker Andrija Kaludjerovic of Serbia will look to fit in the shoes of Kalu Uche and is expected to score the majority of the goals. The Serbian has played all around the world and even for the national team on a few occasions. He is expected to bring his experience to the fore for Delhi.
Kaludjerovic scored a brace in the pre-season friendly against Minerva Punjab, a hattrick in the friendly against Indian Air force and thereby proved his mettle. The Serbian has netted in almost all the friendly matches, which are really positive signs for the Dynamos.
The Indian signings of Narayan Das have made the Delhi defence indomitable as Pritam Kotal was already in the squad along with the reliable Gianni Zuiverloon and Martí Crespí.
However, Delhi have also lost some of their best players. The most notable is the Nigerian striker Kalu Uche who tore apart the opposition's defences and was the top scorer for Delhi last season with 13 goals to his name. He will now be seen plying his trade with ATK.
Here is the complete Delhi Dynamos squad for ISL 2018-19:
Goalkeepers: Albino Gomes, Shayan Roy, Francisco Dorronsoro
Defenders: Narayan Das, Pritam Kotal, Amit Tudu, Gianni Zuiverloon, Marti Crespi, Jayananda Moirangthem, Mohammad Sajid Dhot, Rana Gharami
Midfielders: Marcos Tébar, Romeo Fernandes, Vinit Rai, Rene Mihelic, Lallianzuala Chhangte, Siam Hanghal, Pradeep Mohanraj, Bikramjeet Singh, Adria Carmona, Nanda Kumar, Shubham Sarangi
Forwards: Daniel Lalhlimpuia, Seiminmang Manchong, Andrija Kaluđerović
Delhi Dynamos coach
Josep Gombau Balague has picked up the baton for being the head coach of Delhi from the outgoing coach and fellow Spaniard Miguel Ángel Portugal. The 42-year-old will look to pick up the pieces and make sure the players start anew in the new look team.
The respected gaffer, who has bags of experience, is known to groom budding talents and ensure they perform at the big stage. The youngsters in the team will have a lot to learn from him and his philosophies.
The Catalonian was a goalkeeper in his playing days. He has coached the youth teams of Amposta, Espanyol, and Barcelona. Josep has also been the technical director of FCB Escola -- the youth football academy of Barcelona -- in the past. His first Head coach assignment of a senior team came in the form of Hong Kong's Kitchee. At his 4 years there, the team won two league titles, two FA Cups and one League Cup besides having an impressive Win percentage of 61.29 %.
A-League team Adelaide United and managing the Australia U-23 teams were his next assignments. His latest stint was as head coach of Western Sydney Wanderers, another A-League club.
The gaffer has shown confidence before the season as is reflected in his statement below.
"Our aim is to score as many goals as we can, to play the kind of football that people enjoy when they watch the game in the stadium. I am sure we will have a very good season. I try to be competitive and achieve the results I have in mind. We have a mix of experienced and young players in the team. The young Indian players have the hunger to perform well and work very hard which is a very positive sign."
Delhi Dynamos Probable XI
The Lions have a plethora of options to choose from in the midfield and defence. Shot-stopper Albino Gomes is the first-choice goalkeeper who will guard Delhi's goal. In central defence, Spaniard Martí Crespí and Dutch footballer Gianni Zuiverloon are expected to take charge. The two full-backs are expected to be the reliable Pritam Kotal on the right and Narayan Das on the left.
The central midfield position should be donned by Vinit Rai and Spaniard Marcos Tébar. The Slovenian Rene Mihelič is likely to be seen on the right flank. Lallianzuala Chhangte, who is touted as the next big thing in Indian football, will be seen wreaking havoc in the left flank.
There are excellent backup options for Delhi in each of these positions, and it might get difficult for Josep to get the perfect combination.
The attack will be led by Andrija Kaluđerović with Daniel Lalhlimpuia alongside him.
Predictions for Delhi Dynamos?
The Dynamos will be looking for a resurgence after a lowly 8th place finish in the last season. They are expected to fire all cylinders from the first match itself. The team that has been put together looks much more balanced and capable of performing better on paper.
The Delhi defence, with players who have donned national colours, seems much more capable and is sure to not leak as many as 37 goals like they did last time. The first choice custodian Albino Gomes also suffered an injury last season and was ruled out for a majority of the season but he is fit again and good to go.
Even though Kalu Uche's contract not being extended came as a surprise, their attack is capable of troubling defences. Mizo striker Daniel Lalhlimpuia, Lallianzuala Chhangte will be assisting Andrija, and they look like they will form formidable alliances. The gaffer Josep will ensure that the players improve their possession and control the game as that is his style. The partnership and understanding between Rene, Marcos, and Vinit in the midfield will be crucial for Delhi's success.
Lallianzuala Chhangte will add the necessary pace, trickery, and skill on the wings. There is no dearth of talent, both Indian and foreign, in the Delhi Dynamos team this time and they are expected to go till the very end.
In a bid to attract more fans, the tickets for the home stadium -- Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi -- have been kept as low as Rs. 49.
What do you feel about the Delhi Dynamos team this time and what are your predictions? Do share your opinions in the comments section below.Published 28 Sep 2018, 11:31 IST