Delhi Dynamos and FC Pune City played out a chance-filled 1-1 draw at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Delhi. The hosts completely dominated the game for large spells of the match, but Tato’s looping header just before half time meant that Pune took a 1-0 lead going into the break.
Milan Singh’s 79th-minute equaliser brought Delhi deservedly level, with Edel Bete in fine form in the Pune goal.
Here are 5 talking points from the game:
#1 The result does either club no favours
Delhi Dynamos and FC Pune City went into the game in 6th and 7th in the table, and the 1-1 draw made no difference to either side as they remain in the same position, as their fans have legitimate reasons to be concerned about their team making the playoffs.
FC Pune City and Delhi Dynamos both have had dismal results at home, usually an indicator of a side performing poorly in the ISL. The hosts have yet to win a single game at home, as all three of their home fixtures have finished with a draw, while FC Pune City also have a solitary win away from home.
The Dynamos are fast becoming a side specialising in draws, and Gianluca Zambrotta will be hoping to arrest a slide that has seen them rack up 4 draws and 1 loss ofter their opening win. Antonio Habas’ presence in the dugout has also failed to motivate his players sufficiently, as he has overseen two draws after coming back.
#2 The refereeing in the ISL needs improving
The man who was the difference-maker for Delhi Dynamos, Milan Singh, should not have been on the pitch. The Indian midfielder had earlier dived in a full speed with his studs up right into Mo Sissoko’s ankle, and was lucky to only see yellow – in most leagues that would be a red card.
It was eerie just how prescient Antonio Habas had been, as before the game he said, “I think that the general Indian player is improving but there must be an improvement in controlling tackles. We might have a serious problem because it is not the same to play strong and play violent.”
The ISL are importing referees from other countries, such as the Sri Lankan man in the middle tonight, Dilan Perera. However, among his list of mistakes tonight, were not giving Ruben Rocha a stone-wall penalty after he was tripped by Gouramangi in the box, not penalising Sissoko for grabbing Memo by the neck and averting his eyes while Gouramangi and Gadze clashed.
#3 Edel Bete reminded us about his best and worst qualities
When FC Pune City signed Edel Bete this summer, much was made of the fact that the goalkeeper is the only player with two Indian Super League trophies. The Cameroonian-born Armenian is a lucky charm but has looked suspect between the sticks in Pune’s games so far.
With Delhi Dynamos swarming all over the Pune defence, Edel had to be at his best to keep Pune in the game. A stunning save from Milan’s deflected strike looked like the save of the ISL so far, but Edel was just warming up. The Pune shot-stopper then pulled off a fingertip save in the second half, diving full-stretch to his right to deny Rocha’s low drive that looked set for the bottom corner.
There was still time for a rare blemish, though, as Edel missed a cross into the box and nearly allowed Marcelinho to slot into an empty net, but the Brazilian fluffed his lines. The Armenian would also be disappointed at the way he allowed Milan's shot to trickle past him, as his strike was quite saveable.
#4 The marquee players are not pulling their weight
The concept of a marquee player is one that can inspire the team to play much better. The ISL franchises erred in the first season, hiring big names that were past it in footballing terms. Most sides this season reversed the trend, opting to sign players who could make a significant contribution as their marquee players.
You cannot fault Delhi for retaining Florent Malouda – he was the assist leader last season. However, the Frenchman has been downright awful this season, as he does look a couple of yards off the pace. He was poor against FC Pune City while his teammates were superb in attack, resulting in Zambrotta substituting him.
As for Pune, Mo Sissoko has been quite decent in the middle of the park for much of the season, but the former Liverpool midfielder was strangly subdued in the middle of the park tonight. He was the victim of a bad tackle, but Pune were unable to control the midfield like they normally do, which resulted in them only having 40% possession.
#5 Delhi’s striking issues will see them exit the tournament
Before the game, Gianluca Zambrotta voiced his concerns with his strike force wasting chances, saying “I think that the equation is somewhat same because in the last game we had quite a lot of opportunities to score. In the last match (against ATK) we had opportunities to score but didn’t kill the match.
"We are able to create a lot of chances; that’s no problem for us. Unfortunately, in the last match, there were some mistakes. Football is like this, sometimes it may appear cruel. It is important for us to think positively.”
Delhi did think positively, but Richard Gadze and Badara Badji were very erratic in their shooting, as Delhi finished with 50% of their shots being off target. The North Indian side cannot continue to rely on its midfielders to bail them out everytime, and if Gadze and Badji do not step up to the table, Delhi will surely not make the playoffs.