CHENNAI: It will be the unlikeliest of comebacks if they can complete it! Delhi Dynamos, who were rooted to the bottom of the table for most part of the inaugural Indian Super League season, can qualify for the semifinals with a win over Chennaiyin FC in their final group game at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on Tuesday.
The home team though will look for maximum points as that would enable them to finish top of the league table, no matter what second-placed FC Goa’s result against Atletico de Kolkata is. That could potentially see Marco Materazzi’s men net easier opposition in the semis, as well as give them an extra day to prepare for the final, should they qualify for it.
All eyes though, will be on three Italians – Chennai’s new signing Alessandro Nesta who could potentially make his debut, its player-manager Marco Materazzi and Delhi’s marquee star Alessandro de Piero. The latter in particular will be looking at one last opportunity to shine, having failed to find the net or record an assist so far.
Del Piero’s rumoured rift with Delhi manager Harm van Veldhoven has been a major talking point ahead of Tuesday’s final game, but the Belgian coach was quick to play it down. “I cannot talk about one player. Del Piero is a great professional and his experience is important for the team. The young players have to learn from his way of living for football,” he said.
Van Veldhoven said that the knowledge that his team requires nothing less than a win might actually aid their performance. “It’s always better that you know what you have to do. We knew three matches ago that we had to win every game. It is the last game of the league stage and we have to do what we have to do,” he added.
For Chennaiyin, the arrival of Alessandro Nesta would come as welcome addition following the defensive errors that led to their 1-3 reverse against FC Goa. Player-coach Materazzi was happy that he was able to net ‘one of the best defenders ever’.
“Mendoza was very important for us and we miss him. But we couldn’t get a striker as good as him so we bought one of the best-ever defenders in Alessandro Nesta.”
Chennai had succumbed to their heaviest defeat of the season when the two teams had met in Delhi, but Materazzi insisted that the result would have no bearing on Tuesday’s fixture. “We lost 4-1 against them in Delhi but tomorrow will be a fresh game. I think the pressure is on Delhi as they need to win to qualify. We are already in the semis and will at least be second so we play first leg away in any case,” he said.