A target man up front. A mobile striker. A number 10. And a central defender. Delhi Dynamos have prepared an exhaustive summer shopping list as they hope to turnaround their fortunes in the upcoming Indian Super League season, which is likely to start in September.
Delhi endured one of their toughest seasons earlier this year, finishing eighth in the 10-team league, pocketing 18 out of a maximum 54 points and managing just four wins all season. Their lacklustre performances forced the team management to introduce wholesale changes for the upcoming season, especially in the foreign players’ department.
Dynamos’ Spanish coach Josep Gombau said his team’s struggles were compounded last season by the under-performing attackers and lack of quality in the final third. The club was forced to release forward Andrija Kaludjerovic after he failed to make an impact. The Serb, Delhi’s main man up front, scored one goal in 12 appearances last season.
“I think we played quite good football during the season. There was good build-up action but while in the finish… if you need a good cross, the delivery wasn’t good or when you shoot. We weren’t good in the final third,” Gombau told The Indian Express on the sidelines of Football for Friendship programme in Madrid last week. “We missed a lot of chances. We are a team that had more shots, created more chances but maybe we missed quality in the front. Also, we were unlucky with the foreign strikers that we brought. He wasn’t performing and had to change.”
Delhi announced an extension of Marcos Tebar’s contract. This will be the Spaniard’s third season with the club. The midfielder, a product of Real Madrid’s academy, had joined the side in 2016 but moved to Pune the following season. Last term, he re-signed for Delhi and was the captain for half of the season. Gombau said he is in talks with some foreign players and an announcement can be expected soon.
“Now we are scouting some players, trying to bring them to Delhi. I am working closely with the CEO (Ashish Shah) and director (Rohan Sharma). I hope to sign a target striker, someone who can improve our numbers from last season and a player that is a reference at the top. Also another kind of striker, who has more mobility. A number 10 who can help us, along with a central defender who is strong in the air and good in the build-up,” Gombau said.
The former Barcelona youth team and Australia under-23 coach oversaw a Guinness world record set in Madrid last week for a training session held with most nationalities – 57. The record was achieved at Gazprom’s social programme for children, Football for Friendship. “I came to Spain after the season finished, a good friend of mine is involved in the project and he asked if I want to help them arrange training. It’s a pleasure to train kids from 57 different countries,” Gombau said.
Gombau said he will have a short pre-season camp with Delhi’s under-23 players, including midfielders Shubham Sarangi and Jerry Mawihmingthanga. “In 10 days, some young players are coming to Spain to work with me. Some needed to improve their skills in an off-season camp… individual skills like defending – how to put your body position, how to attack the ball, how to work 1v1 in attack, defence and how to think faster. It’s not that these kids are not good, but they haven’t done something like this before,” Gombau said.
Meanwhile, Antiguan Racer International team won the F4F World Championship title held in Madrid last week, beating Tasmanian Devil in a penalty shootout after the match ended 1-1 after normal time.
The writer was in Madrid on the invitation of Gazprom