Maintaining that Delhi Dynamos lost their opening match due to their own mistakes and not because of the “merit” of the opposition team, coach Roberto Carlos said that his side would bounce back in the Indian Super League football season with a better show against Chennaiyin FC on Thursday.
“I would have been happy if Goa had won on merit but we lost that match due to our own mistakes,” Carlos told reporters at the pre-match press conference, alluding to his side’s 0-2 loss to FC Goa at Margao on October 4.
“But mistakes happen in football and I am not the type who point fingers to players for their mistakes. I have spoken to my players about the mistakes we committed in Goa during the team meeting. My team has talented players and I hope we will make amends and do better against Chennai,” said the 42-year-old 2002 World Cup winner Brazilian.
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Talking about Chennai, Carlos said, “They are a very good team under a very good coach (Marco Materazzi). They have talented players and they played well last season. It should be a great match tomorrow between two great teams.
“The stadium at Goa was houseful and our stadium here is much bigger. I hope our supporters will come out in large numbers at the stadium tomorrow,” said the Dynamos marquee player-cum-coach.
Carlos is expected to continue to turn out for his side though not for the full 90 minutes. In Goa, he came out at the beginning of the second half after his side were already 0-2 down in the match.
“I want to play from the beginning (of the match) and I am trying. But, it is very hard (to do that). Let young people do the job. I will help the team in the second half,” he said.
Asked why Brazilian striker Gustavo dos Santos, who was the highest scorer for Delhi last season, did not start the match against FC Goa but only came in the second half, Carlos said, “He was not at his best of fitness during training. For the next match (tomorrow), he will be ready and do better.”
Santos, who was sitting beside his coach, said that he would be happy to play at any position. He was played on the right side against FC Goa than his usual left flank position at Brazilian side Atletico Paranense.
“For me, I am happy to play at any position. Roberto will decide which position I will have to play,” Santos, who scored five goals for the Dynamos last year, said.
Asked how he feels about returning to the league and the same team for the second season, Santos said, “I think the teams have more quality and it is harder this time around. I think everyday the teams are developing and that makes the league more competitive and interesting. It will develop football here (in the country).”
Young Indian defender Anas Edathodika, who also accompanied his coach, said he would want to do best given a chance. Bought for 41 lakhs in the ISL Players’ Auction, Edathodika did not play against FC Goa.
“I am hopeful of putting up a good show if I get to play. The team has been gelling well and we hope to do well this season. For me, getting to be in the same team and having to play with stalwarts like Carlos, Riise and Malouda has been a great experience,” he said.
Chennaiyin FC assistant coach Vivek Nagul said that his side will recover from the 2-3 loss to defending champions Atletico de Kolkata in the inaugural match.
“We conceded goals and we have to do well in our defence. We will regroup and do better in the next matches,” he said.
“But we will not be defensive. We have been attacking and scoring goals (in the last season). We hope to continue to do well in both defence and attack,” he added.
Nagul said a couple of his players are injured but did not name them. He also said that Fikru Teferra, who switched sides from ATK to Chennaiyin this season and did not play the full 90 minutes in the first match, was not 100 per cent fit.
“We have a couple of players injured. Fikru is a good player and we wanted to play him the whole match against ATK. But he has a little bit of injury. We started him but substituted later. It was a tactical move and we planned like that. He could not do much (against ATK) and we will give him as much time he is comfortable,” Nagul added.
Asked about the absence of striker Jeje Lalpekhlua, who scored a goal against ATK but is currently in Turkmenistan for India’s World Cup qualifying round match, for tomorrow’s match, Nagul said, “That is his national duty. The priority is the national team. We have good players to come in his place.”