New Delhi, November 14
Delhi Dynamos team director Rohan Sharma brazenly announced that he can see a 5-0 scoreline against Pune FC in the Indian Super League Season-4 opener. But after a few exchanges with coach Miguel Angel Portugal, Sharma brought it down to 3-0.
Later, when asked about the club’s realistic ambitions, given they did not get a marquee player for Season 4, Sharma went a step further and said winning the title was a realistic ambition. “It has to be winning the title. Whoever says otherwise is lying,” he said on the sidelines of the official launch of the Delhi Dynamos jersey.
But coach Miguel Angel Portugal was quick to downplay the expectations. For him making the cut in the top four was of prime concern. “First target is to make the first four in the points table. Once there, we will think about winning the championship,” Portugal clarified.
The Delhi team has undergone drastic changes. Last season’s trailblazers Florent Malouda and top-scorer Marcelinho are no more part of the Delhi team. This time the team management resisted the temptation to splash the cash on marquee names, like they did when they signed Roberto Carlos and Alessandro del Peiro.
Yet, the new coach was optimistic about team’s chances, clearly not bothered by a relatively mediocre pre-season performance. The team is coming off a long pre-season that started in Spain, then moved to Qatar and finally to Delhi. Despite winning abroad only once in four matches — 1-0 win over Muaither SC — Portugal believes he has the right mix of players.
“Both the foreign and Indian team members are good players and I’m very happy to train them. I hope we will have a good competition,” he said. “Pre-season is good for players as it gives them an opportunity to know the coach, his philosophy, his ideas. It is also good for coaches as they can see the players’ worth.”
‘In for a long haul’
Team owner Anil Sharma, whose company GMS took over the reins of the team from DEN Network last year, made it clear that he was serious about this acquisition.
“We took over despite knowing DEN’s struggles with the losses. We are here for a long time, this is clear. But we are also looking for a strategic partner to balance it,” Sharma said. “We had a proposal, which we didn’t like. We are on a lookout and if something works out, we will be more than happy to share it with the media,” he added.