Bengaluru, Sep 30: Maybe it is time for Delhi Dynamos to deliver. In the first season, Delhi Dynamos flattered to deceive and last season, Roberto Carlos was just 90 minutes from the Indian Super League final.[Full schedule of ISL 2016] [Full list of squads for ISL 2016]
Delhi's solitary goal victory over FC Goa gave them a real edge going into the crucial second leg semi-final but Carlos lost his battle against another Brazilian great, Zico, for a place in the final.
That must have disappointed the former Brazilian defender and his team Delhi Dynamos, and they will now be keen to go at least one step further this season.
Carlos has not returned for a second stint in the ISL but Delhi Dynamos have nothing to worry. They have replaced the former Brazil international and among the world's best left-backs with another legend: Gianluca Zambrotta.
The full-back was Italy's star player at the 2006 World Cup which Italy won and was even included in the World Cup's team of the tournament. That wouldn't count for anything when the ISL kicks off but unlike his predecessor he has coaching experience, having managed Swiss second-tier side FC Chiasso.
To expect Zambrotta to deliver straightway will be unfair but such is the nature of the ISL that an early kick-start is needed to lay the foundation for qualification. Can Delhi do it? Yes, why not.
Unlike last year when Delhi Dynamos retained just one foreign player from the previous season, Delhi have done well to retain their best performers from beyond Indian shores.
Goalkeeper Toni Doblas was the star man and he has been handed a new contract. Then there is striker Richard Gadze who did not exactly set the scoring charts on fire but his previous ISL experience can be handy. And who can forget Florent Malouda, one of the best performers in the league?
Malouda will again be needed at his awesome best to propel Delhi. He will be joined by former Chennaiyin FC man midfielder Bruno Pellissari and the Brazilian youngster has proved in the previous two editions that he can prove more than a handful for the opposition.
Senegalese Ibrahima Niasse, Spaniard Marcos Tebar and Brazilian Memo are the other foreign midfield options, while from among the domestic players Zambrotta can show faith in Denson Devadas, who was an important player for FC Goa last season, Milan Singh or Kean Lewis.
Given the tight ISL schedule, gauging their true level may not be possible until the first few matches. Their main aim for this season was to upgrade their options at the back and make up for the departure of former Liverpool defender John Arne Riise.
Zambrotta, their Italian coach being a defender himself, will no doubt lay greater emphasis on the back and he will be assured by the presence of former Real Madrid defender Ruben Gonzalez.
Ghanaian international left-back David Addy, Anas Edathodika, Shouvik Chakravorty and promising talent from the North East like Lalchhawnkima and Lalruatthara make up for plenty of options among the back four.
Even up front, Delhi look more than just decent. With Gadze's return, they have a striker who understands the ISL and has a proven scoring record and he is expected to link up with Badara Badji, the Senegalese international.
Arjun Tudu, who attracted attention during the Santosh Trophy for Services and even received a national call-up can prove to be the surprise package.
On the evidence of Delhi's pre-season friendlies, the team remains a work in progress but in reality, they have never looked so assured before the start of ISL. It is time for Delhi to deliver.
Goalkeepers: Antonio Doblas, Soram Poirei, Sanjiban Ghosh; Anas Edathodika, Konsham Singh, David Addy, Ibrahima Niasse, Lalchhawnkima, Lalruatthara, Ruben Gonzalez, Rupert Nongrum, Souvik Chakraborty; Alwyn George, Amoes Do, Bruno Pelissari, Denson Devadas, Emerson, Florent Malouda (Marquee), Malsawmzuala, Marcos Tebar, Milan Singh; Arjun Tudu, Badara Badji, Kean Lewis, Marcelo, Richard Gadze.
Strongest XI (4-4-2)
Soram Poirei; Souvik Chakraborty, Anas Edathodika, Ruben Gonzalez, David Addy; Florent Malouda, Marcos Tebar, Milan Singh, Keane Lewis; Marcos Leite, Badara Badji.
Delhi Dynamos, semifinalists last season, have a new squad with a new manager in former Italian defender Gianluca Zambrotta.
They have an extremely young and energetic squad but with the fierce competition in the league, it will be difficult for them to qualify for the semi-finals this time.