Synopsis: In presence of an array of yesteryear greats and Brazilian imports, home-grown talents Romeo Fernandes and Mandar Rao Dessai hold their own as Roberto Carlos’ ISL debut as Delhi Dynamos’ player-manager ends in a 2-0 defeat to Zico’s Goa.
Romeo’s remarkable return
As much as this was about two Brazilian legends, Roberto Carlos and Zico, in a touchline duel, Sunday’s match between FC Goa and Delhi Dynamos at Fatorda was also about a player whose failed stint in Brazil nearly jeopardized his football career. Romeo Fernandes, the hero of last ISL, has endured a tough time since after his South American sojourn with Atletico Paranaense ended in a nightmare.
On Sunday, though, it appeared as if last 10 months did not exist for Fernandes. The winger carried on from where he left off last season, wrecking havoc in Delhi defence with some pacy runs down the wings and setting-up Goa’s opening goal after just three minutes. Fernandes easily slipped past John Arne Riise after receiving a pass from Leo Moura, and then played a teasing ball in front of the goal.
Another local boy, Mandar Rao Dessai, came charging in from the left to slot the ball home. His run put pressure on Delhi defender Souvik Chakraborty, who put the ball beyond his own goalkeeper, Sanjiban Ghosh.
Delhi defence exposed
Playing on opposite flanks, Dessai and Fernandes formed an attacking trident with Brazilian Reinaldo, who scored Goa’s second goal just before half time. The trio, along with Moura, controlled the proceedings, exposing the chinks in Delhi’s defence.
Delhi faced a crisis of sorts in their goalkeeping department after Subhasish Roy Chowdhury and Ravi Kumar were deemed unfit a couple of days before their opening match. Chowdhury has been nursing a knee injury for the last six months and despite heading to Brazil’s Atletico PR for recuperation, he hasn’t recovered completely. Ravi Kumar, who was picked in the ISL draft, too injured himself in training.
Ghosh joined the team only a couple of days back and given the circumstances, he gave a good account of himself. The Mumbai FC custodian pulled off some good saves and despite receiving no help from his defence, he managed to keep Delhi in the hunt till the end.
Carlos’ uninspiring ISL debut
Unhappy with his team’s defence, 42-year-old Carlos, who had officially retired three years ago, brought himself in at the start of second half. However, the Brazilian great could hardly inspire his team. He looked out of place and out of pace, struggling to do anything meaningful in his 45-minute stay on field. Delhi won a free-kick in the stoppage time, raising the hopes of the packed stadium to see Carlos recreate his magic. His powerful shot, however, was easily saved by Goa goalkeeper Andrade.
Carlos the manager too was unimpressive. He started former Chelsea midfielder as the lone striker, hoping that his midfield would hold together and feed him well. However, Malouda was often isolated up front although he did manage a few decent attempts on goal. His substitutions, too, did not yield desired results, including his decision to introduce himself in the second half.