Delhi Dynamos gave the football fans a plethora of reason to cheer after the franchisee entered the Indian Super League last year. The national capital never had an I-League side where the fans could lend their support to, and that local interest of supporting a big football club from the region was missing for a long time.
The football team, owned by the DEN networks, brought in a big name in Alessandro Del Piero in the inaugural season of the ISL last term, and the Italian was an instant success with the fans.
However, the Juventus legend was disappointing in his performances on the pitch, and although there was a huge amount of fan interest, the excitement died down as the matches progressed,
Spectators thronged the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in huge numbers just to see a glimpse of the Italy veteran, be it when he was training or displaying his skills on the field. Not only Del Piero, but also a host of other foreign stars like Gustavo and Kristof Van Hout -- the tallest goalkeeper in the world -- were making heads turn, and attracting crowds.
Delhi were unbeaten in their first four matches in the ISL last year, but their form slowly dipped following that. Out of 14 games last season, they picked up just four wins and four losses, while registering six draws, which denied them a commanding finish in the league.
Delhi Dynamos finished fifth last season, and narrowly missed out on making it to the playoffs.
Road to ISL season 2
The franchisee has geared up in every possible way to make an impact this season, and do what they could not do the last time. The side brought in Brazil legend Roberto Carlos and appointed him as the marquee player-cum-manager for ISL 2015.
If Carlos -- one of the greatest left-backs of all time -- was not enough, Delhi took out the cheque book and brought in the likes of former Chelsea star Florent Malouda, former Liverpool star John Arne Riise, West Brom youngster Adil Nabi, as well as a host of Indian stars.
"I have come this time to make Delhi the champions," is how Carlos has planned his road ahead in the three-month football tournament, as he has got into the business straightaway by guiding his side in the preseason tour of Sweden and Denmark, this summer, to give his men the much-needed exposure.
The Delhi side won just one of their four friendly games in the preseason, but the quality of the teams they faced was immense.
Here are the results:
Delhi Dynamos 1-3 Varberg BoIS
Delhi Dynamos 2-7 BK Hacken
Delhi Dynamos 3-2 Skene IF
Delhi Dynamos 0-0 FC Vestsjaelland
Adil Nabi : The Englishman, with Pakistani roots, was adjudged as the Young Player of the Year at West Brom last season, and he will be one of the most crucial signings of the ISL this season. Nabi, who has been compared to Liverpool great Michael Oweb, got on the scoresheet on three occasions for the Delhi side in the preseason, and he is expected to continue his momentum when the new season of the Indian Super League gets under way.
Robin Singh : The lanky Indian striker, who was brought by the franchise for Rs 50 Lakhs is expected to step things up in the forward line, if he gets a chance to play, after beating competition from Nabi, Gustavo and Richard Gadze. He may not have been too fluent in terms of his goalscoring prowess for Bengaluru FC in the I-League, but a chance to ply his trade at his hometown could bring the best out in him.
Delhi Dynamos: Full squad:
Goalkeepers: Subhasish Roy Chowdury, Toni Doblas, Ravi Kumar
Defenders: Roberto Carlos (Head Coach), John Arne Riise, Chicao, Anwar Ali, Anas, Prabir Das, Naoba Singh, Robert Lathlamanua
Midfielders: Serginho Greene, Hans Mulder, Francis Fernandes, G Vignesh, Zodingliana Ralte, Souvik Chakraborty, Snehaj Singh, Gustavo, Florent Malouda
Forwards: Vincius Ferreria, Robin Singh, Adil Nabi, Seminlen Doungel, Richard Gadze
Delhi Dynamos take on FC Goa on 4 October at Fatorda, while they face Chennaiyin FC in their first home game on 8 October.
Thoughts of the Head Coach