The frustration was clear in Gianluca Zambrotta’s voice when the Delhi Dynamos head coach was asked about the effect of Delhi’s pollution on his team’s preparations ahead of their match against Kerala Blasters on Friday.
“We are forced to practice inside the hotel premises. It is not possible to get ready for an important match like this,” he said.
While talking at the pre-match press conference on Thursday, Kerala Blasters coach Steve Coppell also complained about the pollution and its adverse effects on their training.
“We practised outside for the first time yesterday (Tuesday) after consulting our team doctor. We need more practice, but that is not possible due to the conditions”, he said.
It has been a tough period for both the teams as they were unable to practice outside their hotel premises due to the pollution and that has hampered their preparations. The players have been advised to stay indoors for the majority of the day and major concerns still remain over the conditions during Friday’s encounter.
In the last couple of days, Delhi’s air quality has been among the world’s worst and according to the global air pollution data, the average PM2.5 level crossed almost 700 µg/m³ — which is among the highest recorded in the world and 29 times above WHO standards.
The dip in the air quality level has been particularly tough for the foreign players as they are not accustomed to these conditions.
Kerala Blasters striker from Newcastle, Michael Chopra , said, “I have been quite unwell for the last couple of days and the pollution is just making it worse.”
However, the league officials are taking precautions in order to ensure healthy conditions for the players.
“We have made face masks mandatory for all the footballers and the coaching staff in order to prevent any kind of illness. We have also installed air filters in the team hotels and we hope the players will not face any problem when they take the field on Friday,” Delhi Dynamos president Prashant Agarwal said.
The Indian Super League is infamous for its crunched schedule and with the rapidly increasing pollution levels in Delhi, it seems that the trip to Delhi is turning into a nightmare for the teams in the competition.