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ISL 2017-18: Delhi Dynamos FC, Kerala Blasters FC aim for reversal of fortunes

Delhi Dynamos FC and Kerala Blasters FC have both had forgettable Indian Super League (ISL) seasons thus far and will seek an upturn in fortunes when they clash in New Delhi on Wednesday.

football Updated: Jan 09, 2018 20:11 IST
Shayne Dias
Shayne Dias
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Delhi Dynamos FC,Kerala Blasters FC,ISL
Kerala Blasters take on Delhi Dynamos in their Indian Super League (ISL) 2017-18 encounter on Wednesday.(ISL)

Before the start of the Indian Super League (ISL) 2017-18, both Delhi Dynamos and Kerala Blasters had very different visions going into the player draft and how they would assemble their squad.

Delhi’s aim was to build a side with a long-term vision and a unique style of play. Hence the appointment of former Real Madrid B coach Miguel Angel Portugal, someone who promised to develop and nurture upcoming Indian talent. This vision was reflected in their signings.

For the Blasters, however, the motto clearly was “go big or go home”. They appointed former Fulham manager Rene Meulensteen as head coach and splashed the cash on both foreign and local talent.

However, with the league stages of the ISL already at the halfway mark, it is clear that both sides have failed to achieve their targets.

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Kerala currently sit eighth in the league standings, whilst the Dynamos are rooted at the bottom of the table after suffering an alarming six losses, the most by any side so far this season.

The Blasters have rung in the changes, signing Uganda international Kizito Keziron and bringing in former England goalkeeper David James to replace Meulensteen as coach.

However, the same can’t be said about Delhi. The only player they signed was goalkeeper Xabi Irureta and that too because their regular first-choice keeper Albino Gomes suffered a long-term injury.

Any other form of defensive reinforcement might have been a welcome sign, but Portugal doesn’t believe the side’s defence is as much of an issue as their attacking.

“I think both they (Blasters) and us have the same problem; not enough goals scored,” said Delhi’s head coach to journalists on the eve of their game.

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Portugal has said many times in the past that he is a fan of playing attacking football. However, the fact that his side is so defensively fragile is an issue that needs to be sorted regardless of whether or not they make the play-offs this season, a proposition that looks extremely unlikely at this point.

However, David James isn’t without problems of his own. Their squad doesn’t lack in quality but Meulensteen could never quite figure out how to bring out the best in them as a unit. James will have to figure out how to best use his individual talents play as a team.

He did, however, seem confident about his side’s chances of securing a top-four finish. “I think our squad is a tremendous one. My players and I are confident we can turn this around,” said the former Portsmouth and Liverpool goalkeeper.

First Published: Jan 09, 2018 20:05 IST