While the city’s IPL team continues to plunge to new depths each season, the football team will look to be the real dark horses of the league and assert its credentials early on.
What it has going for itself is the carefully constructed squad, and Tata-bred assistant coach Shakti Chauhan, who is fresh from coaching the Tata Football Academy (TFA) to the Under-19 I-league title earlier this year.
Head coach Harm Van Veldhoven, a Belgian who has in the past guided FC Brussels to the second-division Belgian league title, will rely heavily on Chauhan’s inputs, especially for its vast collection of local players.
Kristof Van Hout
The world’s tallest goalkeeper (6’10”) will probably account for his team’s strategy—take the important matches to the penalty shootout and leave the rest to this giant custodian—and at 28, has played for Belgian powerhouse teams like Racing Genk and Standard Liege.
The “other Czech Cech”, Marek Cech, has been the no. 3 goalkeeper for his country for years now, with just one cap to his name. He has played with Czech powerhouses Sparta Prague, Viktoria Plzen, and was the best goalkeeper in the Czech league for a while in 2006 after going 740 minutes without conceding a goal.
The 3rd goalkeeper of the team, Singh has played for Indian Arrows, Prayag United and more notably, Air India FC in the I-League. More recently, he has played for Eagles FC on loan, and has played for the India U19 and India U23 teams.
The defender has played 3 matches for India, and has been a favorite with East Bengal FC, for who he has played 21 games, after playing for Churchill Bros. for 6 years till 2011.
Another defender on the Tata-Churchill-East Bengal path, but is yet to play for India.
The defender spent his early years with Palian Arrows even going on to lead the side, before moving to big shows Mohun Bagan AC. He is only 21, and has been a promising player for the India U23 side.
The talented Delhi-born defender played for United Sikkim in the I-League second division, got promoted to first division with them, before going on to play for Rangdajied United last season.
A favorite among the defending seniors of the Indian national football team, Ali is good in the air and has the likes of JCT, Dempo, Mohun Bagan, United Sikkim and Mumbai FC on his I-League CV. He will lend much-needed experience at the back for his Delhi Dynamos club.
He has played 2 international matches, and has won the I-League with as a crucial defender with Churchill Bros. in 2008-09. Also has East Bengal, Salgaocar and United Sikkim on his CV, but is on loan with Eagles FC along with Jagroop Singh.
The 29-year-old Belgian defender has played for a variety of second-division sides, starting with Dutch team Den Bosch, before moving back to Belgium to play for KVSK United. He became one of the players that guided OH Leuven to first division in 2011 and played for 3 seasons before they got relegated again.
A powerful header of the ball, the 19 year old Dutch defender is known for his strong right foot. An integral part of the Feynoord U19 Dutch squad, he has also played for the first team thrice.
An I-League veteran, Sailo has played for Salogaocar, Mohun Bagan and Prayag United before settling down with East Bengal as their midfielder.
A proper born-and-brought up Goan midfielder, Francis played for Vasco—his hometown—for 3 seasons before becoming a mainstay for Salgaocar FC for 9 years. He has played 23 games for India.
A product of Mohun Bagan’s Academy, the 20 year old midfielder has played for the senior Bagan team 37 times (debut in 2012) till now.
A product of Sesa Football Academy, Khan played for Sporting Goa for give years before signing with I-League favorite Mohun Bagan for a year in 2013. He has played thrice for India.
A mainstay in the Indian midfield, Dias is known as the David Beckham for his national team due to his long-range passing and corner kicks. He formed an effective combination with Sunil Chhetri, and was responsible for India’s first Nehru Cup title back in 2007. He has played 51 games for India, and currently plays for the I-League’s Mumbai Tigers.
The Bengal midfielder is known for his participation as a 15 year old in the Manchester United Premier Cup in 2006. He went on to play for Mohun Bagan early on, before moving to Air India and United, and is now back to Bagan.
Bruno Herrero Arias
The 29 year old Spanish midfielder is a product of Sevilla’s youth system, but only managed 3 senior team appearances in 2 seasons, before moving to Murcia in the second-division and a host of other lower teams. He currently plays for Girona FC.
The Dutch-Spanish player started as a youth for RKC Waalwijk and Real Zaragoza. He went on to make 113 senior team appearances for Waalwijk in 5 years before moving to NEC, and finally the Dynamos for this season.
The sole Portuguese player in the side, he has played for the U16 to U21 national teams over the years as a youngster, after which he played for a bunch of second and third division sides on loan, ending with Vitoria Guimaraes B, and now the Dynamos.
Gustavo Marmentini is a Brazilian centre-forward who has played for Paranaense, while Pavel Elias is a Czech midfielder who has played for FK Jablonec 97 over 8 years and 98 caps.
India Young Player of the season in 2013. The Haryanvi footballer is known for his impressive I-League CV that includes the likes of Palian Arrows, Air India, East Bengal and recently, Rangdajied United. He has played for the India U16, U19 and U23 sides before making two brief appearances for the senior team in 2012.
The Danish former International has played for top teams like La Liga team Real Sociedad and Dutch team Utrecht. He is known for his physical strength and heading power, scoring a goal in 6 international games.
Another striker to have played 7 games for Denmark, the 33 year old has played for a host of Dutch and Danish league sides before being bought by the Dynamos as presumably the man to partner Del Piero on the field.
Alessandro Del Piero
The 4th highest Italian goalscorer of all time, Del Piero is a Juventus legend and World Cup Winner with Italy in 2006. He is Delhi’s marquee player at age 39, after playing as Sydney FC’s marquee played for two seasons. He has scored 208 goals for Juventus, and 24 for Sydney FC. If he can emulate his younger days, Delhi will be a tough team to beat.