With a new head coach in Italian World Cup winner Gianluca Zambrotta at the helm of affairs, Delhi Dynamos will open their Indian Super League football campaign against defending champions Chennaiyin FC on Thursday.
After a poor first season, Delhi Dynamos made it to the semi-finals last year under Brazillian World Cup winner Roberto Carlos only to lose 1-3 on aggregate to FC Goa.
In a departure from the first two seasons which had seen two head coaches in two years, Zambrotta was brought in for a two-year tenure and interestingly in his maiden ISL fixture, he will face up to his close friend and 2006 World Cup winning team-mate Marco Materzzi at the Chennaiyin dug-out at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on Thursday.
Just after his unveiling in New Delhi, 39-year-old Zambrotta, who was mainly an attacking full-back, had talked about building a compact unit, strong in both attack as well as defence.
“I am very happy with the pre-season. We had a good pre-season and am more than happy with it, but the championship starts on Thursday. We will see on Thursday if we have done a good job. We hope to do a good job,” said Zambrotta at the pre-match press conference. “For me, it’s important that the team remains compact when we attack as well as when we defend but more importantly it’s important to have the winning mentality. I have come here to win something,” said the Italian.
Zambrotta will be banking on his marquee player Florent Malouda, interestingly one of the members of French team that lost to Italy in the 2006 World Cup final, to deliver the goods on Thursday.
Chennaiyin, on the other hand, will be playing their first home match of the season, after they played out a 2-2 draw against Atletico de Kolkata in their opening match.