Delhi Dynamos kick-start their campaign Against Chennaiyin FC today…

Gianluca Zambrotta locks horns with a familiar face in Marco Materazzi on Thursday night in Chennai as he looks to start his managerial career – with Delhi Dynamos – with a victory over the Indian Super League champions in Chennaiyin FC.

With the Chennaiyin gaffer stating he would wish his compatriot the best only after Thursday’s showdown, the Dynamos manager, whilst being questioned on the duel said they were ready for an interesting game the next day.

“I won a World Cup with Materazzi. He’s a good friend but, tomorrow, we’ll have an interesting game against a difficult opponent,” said Zambrotta. “Chennaiyin are a very good team and we’re ready for them.”

The Dynamos coach seems to put as much emphasis on the psychological aspect of the game as he does on tactics as he suggested that his personnel should boast a winning mentality. Having played for Barcelona as well as Serie A juggernauts Juventus and AC Milan, what brand of football his team espouses remains to be seen, but he said that he would expect his players to operate as a unit.

“It’s important to play in a compact fashion. They have to attack together and defender together. Another important thing is that I like my team to have a winning mentality. We’re here to win something,” said Zambrotta.

Dynamos won two friendlies and drew one after their defeat to English Premier League outfit West Bromwich Albion in their first pre-season game. The 39-year-old manager claimed he was happy with the outcomes of the pre-season games though he admitted that their performance in the league would only decide how successful their pre-season campaign was.

“I’m very happy with the preseason. We had a very good preseason,” claimed Zambrotta. “I’m happy with the work we have put in, but the championship begins tomorrow. It means that our work starts tomorrow and we have to do well from tomorrow for the preseason to have meaning.”

Dynamos boast a wide array of domestic players — from highly rated Army sensation Arjun Tudu and to seasoned veteran Denson Devadas – and the coach is impressed with the steady ascension in the quality of their game. Branding them as fundamentally good, he lauded their eagerness to learn.

“We have very good Indian players. Their levels have been going up day by day, so I feel very good about the Indian players. They are good fundamentally and are intelligent. Most importantly, they want to learn and grow as players,” said Zambrotta.

ISL 2016 marks former Chelsea midfielder Florent Malouda’s second season as the Dynamos’ marquee player, and Zambrotta, highlighting his prominence in the roster, said he could be the player young players could look up to.

“Malouda is a very important player for us; he’s our captain. He’s a leader in terms of his contributions on and off the pitch. He’s a player who can also help the young players.”

Dynamos reached the knockout stages under Roberto Carlos’ stewardship last season and the managerially green Zambrotta will hope to help them land their maiden ISL title.