While Indian football made its mark on Saturday by defeating Puerto Rico with a solid 4-1 victory, there was another big landmark for the country’s football. Indian Super League’s (ISL) Delhi Dynamos became the first Indian football club to play against an English Premiere League (EPL) side, West Bromwich Albions at The Hawthorn in Sandwell, England, the same evening.
The friendly pre-season fixture for Delhi Dynamos ended with a 1-0 defeat, after retired English footballer Kevin Phillips put the ball behind the net in the 65th minute.
But Gianluici Zambrotta’s side can take pride in the fact that they were able to restrict a top league team to a single goal, in spite of them playing several regular players, including the recently bought Belgian winger from Tottenham, Nacer Chadli.
Delhi Dynamos President Prashant Agarwal said he is extremely proud of his team and the fact that a club from India got a chance to play at such a huge level.
“Our lions showed the true spirits. Irrespective of the result it’s still a win for us. No one dreamt about an Indian Club playing at this level. The entire footballing fraternity in the country is proud of our lions,” Prashant said.
Aakash Sundriyal, one of the co-founders of Dynamos Ultras, the ‘official’ fan club of ISL Delhi team, said, “It was good to see our boys playing it out with some of the best players in European football. West Brom is a really good side and we are glad how the team played.”
Dynamos took the game to West Brom in the final few minutes after the arrival of former West Brom’s U-19 player Samir Nabi. Several shots in the last 20 minutes missed the net by few inches, hitting goal posts and side bars. The shot by Kean Lewis at 75th minute from 30 yards, which missed the net by a whisker, was the best chance for Dynamos in the game.
Kean Lewis, spoke to Indian Express online after the match, and described the encounter as a “great experience”.
“We Showed we can be disciplined and organised on field. We’ve trained only for a week and losing 1-0 to a professional EPL team who have trained for months together is a great achievement for us and for Indian football. Still a long way to go,” Lewis said.
The team management is hopeful after the result that they can perform good in the coming ISL season and can go on to win the tournament.
“The side looks fresh and eager to play. The coming season will be good one for us,” another co-founder of Ultras Dynamos, Anant Basudev Shadangi said.
“We have shown beautiful signs of progress. We are confident going into ISL tournament this year,” Prashant added.
With Indian national football team also beating the higher ranked Puerto Rico on Saturday evening, the Indian football appears to be finding the right foot in International football circuit.