The hosts could not hold onto their lead and conceded a late goal to share the spoils.
Delhi Dynamos and FC Pune City took off where they left in the last season of Indian Super League, a draw in Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, New Delhi. Playing in the last match of this season’s first round, the Lions took the lead through an out-of-the-box goal from the debutant Rana Gharami.
The new head coach of Delhi Dynamos, Josep Gombau laid his views saying, “Yeah I am happy with the performance of the team, in terms of efforts put in from the players on the pitch. But I am just not happy with the result.”
In the pre-match interaction with the coach, he had dropped severe hints of starting Martin Crespi in defence but the inclusion of Rana Gharami amazed everybody. “It is a long league. We have a lot of matches. So I decided to field Gianni (Zuiverloon) and Rana as central defenders. Crespi is obviously a very good player and he will have his chances as the season progresses. In the next few weeks, From October 17th onwards we have continuous matches. So everybody will get chances. I am satisfied with Gianni and Rana’s performance.”
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Watch: Delhi Dynamos 1-1 FC Pune City highlights
En route their draw, they lost Bikramjit Singh to an injury. He lamented his injury and stated that this is a big loss and it really is bad when a player is down due to an injury. Vinit Rai filled in for him and he will be expected to start the game in place of the former Mohun Bagan midfielder.
Despite having scored in most of their pre-season games, Andrija Kaluderovic went goalless in the game. “He is a striker and people always measure a striker’s performance with goals. I think he did well and worked a lot. He had a couple of chances to score and missed. This happens. Next week, if he has the chances he will score,” said Josep Gombau.
While taking a positive note from him, Gombau added, “Kaluderovic also created chances. I am satisfied with everyone’s performance. We dominated in the second half. In the last minute, I thought it was a penalty. It was a handball inside the penalty box. It should have been a penalty.”
Asked if he was disappointed by the draw, Gombau kept his head high and replied, “In the first 20 minutes, we didn’t play to our potential. But after that we played well. From the beginning of the second half, we had the control of the game.”
Dynamos had 13 attempts for the goal with their passing percentage and crosses being better than Pune City FC.
Gombau continued, “We created a lot of chances. In football, if you don’t score in one transition then the other team can come at you and this is what happened. We got chances to score the second goal but did not take it. And Pune also got chances and they scored. It was a good game for the spectators. I am happy with the result.”
He concluded, “I’ll take the positives from this match and analyse and work hard so that the next game is even better.”
On the other hand, FC Pune City head coach Miguel Angel Portugal was up against his former side in the fixture. The Spanish tactician was with the eighth-placed Delhi team the previous season and transferred ships not so long ago.
Summing up their performance, the coach said, “Well, I think the result is okay. The first half we start the game well, 2-3 scoring chances to score the goal but it was Delhi who scored the goal with a great chance. In the second half, we tried to press high and try to draw the match. It is true that Delhi did have two chances more to score another goal but that’s football. In the first half, we had so many chances could not score.”
Once Pune were behind with a goal, it was evident on the field that they were pressing high up the field which was leaving more space of opposition players to exploit. The manager duly recognised this trait and said that it was a risk Pune needed to take because they were trailing. “In football, you need to take risks in such situations,” he said.
Talking about his players and especially Ashique Kuruniyan who had a sublime outing, “I had a lot of confidence in Ashique. For me, I am very happy with his work in training. He is a young player. In Delhi, we were working with Chhangte, Nandhakumar and Vinit Rai, Sajid. In Pune, we have Ashique, Poojary, Sarthak. I like young players since they are the future of football in India,” he said.
According to him, Ashique has to improve his decision making on the ball. “Ashique’s mentality is always driving, driving, driving (forward). In football, you can do driving, pass and shoot also. I want Ashique to change that mentality,” he mentioned.
Pune marquee player, Marcelinho, was out of the contention due to his suspension from the Super Cup and Portugal was asked if the Brazilian’s return would bolster his team’s attack. “Marcelinho is a big player for this league but for me nothing. Right now, I only care about the players who can play,” he said.
Having already worked with Delhi’s squad, he knew how to tame a few players. He had special plans for Nandhakumar, Vinit Rai and Lalrinzuala Chhangte. “I told them(Pune City players) to press Chhangte, Vinit, Nandha with intensity as soon as they had the ball. I wanted two-on-one against them and not one-on-one. We know Chhangte and Nandha are very good at driving with the ball forwards. That is why I always wanted a two-on-one situation against them,” he signed off.
Pune City FC will play the famed Maharashtra Derby in Mumbai Football Arena on 19th October but before, Delhi will resume the ISL action just after the international break on 17th October.