New Delhi, November 26
Their last match loss halted the momentum of an impressive campaign a bit but Delhi Dynamos would look to reassert themselves as strong title contenders when they take on bottom-placed FC Goa in their final home game of the Indian Super League football here on Sunday. Delhi are one of the most impressive sides in the ISL this season but with three matches left to be played, they are placed fourth with 17 points from 11 matches. A win tomorrow will put Delhi a foot on the play-offs.
For Goa, if they win tomorrow, they can mathematically still qualify for the semifinals. But, they have a remote chance now after their 1-2 loss against Atletico de Kolkata at home in their last match. They are now at the bottom of the eight-team league table with 11 points from 12 matches.
Delhi head coach Gianluca Zambrotta said that it would be foolish to be complacent against Goa in his side’s quest for a semi-final berth. “If we win this game then Delhi will be in a good position to qualify for play-offs. I am not getting into the mathematical calculations, just preparing for this match and trying to win. Like always, we will strive to win,” said Zambrotta at the pre-match media interaction. Delhi have been strong at home this season and are the only side not to lose a home game. They were winless at home in their first three matches but Zambrotta’s side eventually gained momentum, winning two of their next three matches.
The clash against Goa tomorrow will be the last home game in the league stage for Delhi and Zambrotta knows his side must remain focused. “At the moment, this is one of the most difficult games for us. It will be a mistake to think they (Goa) are last. That will be a bad attitude. The players must stay focused and determined,” said Zambrotta. The 2006 World Cup winner said he would take one game at a time, and that anything more than qualification for the play-offs would be a welcome bonus.
“My philosophy is to take one match at a time. Tomorrow, we have our last home game and we must play well for our fans. In all honesty, if we win against Goa, we will be in a much better position to make the playoffs, but I don’t worry about how many points we are going to win or lose in a game. My job is to prepare the team in the best way possible.
“Our primary target is to qualify for the playoffs. If we finish on top (at the league stage), that will be an added bonus,” said the 39-year-old.
Goa head coach Zico, on the other hand, has already given up on his team’s chances but he said his players will approach tomorrow’s match with the same intensity.
“We will play with same intensity. We are professionals. When we go on the pitch, we must respect the jersey, the fans and the honour of our owner. I learnt this when I started playing football. We have to honour the jersey, always. We will give hundred percent,” said Zico.
Goa lost 0-2 against Delhi at home and will again remain underdogs in the away clash. They have been poor defensively but have a healthy away record compared to their home performances, after scoring seven of their 11 points away and keeping two of their three clean sheets when playing away from home.
“Tomorrow’s match is a different story. When we played Delhi (in our home match), we had to fight for points and take more risks. We do not need to take risks now. The only difference is that we will field only those players who are hundred percent fit. The last game was very tiring,” said Zico.