The tension had been simmering for a dozen years; on Saturday, it came to a boil. Not a second had passed after the final whistle at the end of Delhi Dynamos’ 1-1 draw with Atletico de Kolkata that Delhi’s player-cum-coach Roberto Carlos got involved in an on-field tussle with opposition striker Valdo. It was an incident which had first occurred when the two were playing in the La Liga.
During a 2005 clash between Real Madrid and Osasuna, Carlos injured Valdo in a hefty challenge. The latter insisted the Brazilian great laughed while he lay injured and never apologised, an allegation Carlos denies.
“It happened 12 years ago and I apologised for it,” said Carlos, who pushed Valdo during Saturday’s heated exchange before being taken away by his teammates. “Today, he was a little aggressive towards me. I think he had remembered the incident all this while,” said Carlos, before adding, “He is a nice guy actually.”
However, when he was not facing off with opponents from the past, Carlos was trying to cope with the unusually aggressive Atletico de Kolkata. After Iain Hume put the visitors ahead in the 27th minute after a rare error by Delhi goalkeeper Toni Doblas, the Dynamos remained on the backfoot. “I didn’t like the first half. We were not aggressive. But the players did exactly what I asked in the second half,” said Carlos, who last month famously proclaimed “tactics are a lie, it’s all about the quality.” The stroke of genius however involved both.
Carlos replaced an off-colour Gustavo Dos Santos with Richard Gadze in the 55th minute. Six minutes later, the striker blasted a left-footed shot into the far post, scoring his fourth goal of the season and keeping Dynamos unbeaten at home. Opposition coach Antonio Lopez Habas admitted the substitution was the turning point, saying, “The opponents definitely improved with the change.”
On his part, Habas made sure he did not leave the capital without a point, as Kolkata successfully employed the offside trap in the last 20 minutes, frustrating Gadze and Robin Singh and avoiding defeat.