Delhi FC vs Rajasthan United: Renewed rivalry may ignite a close contest
Sri Bhaini Sahib (Punjab), Nov 1 : Two I-League teams with two contrasting results from the opening round will face off for bragging rights at the Namdhari Sports Complex on Thursday.
For Delhi FC, the game provides a chance to register their first win of the season, to back up what was an impressive opening-day draw against TRAU. For Rajasthan, a tough trip away to Srinagar leaves more questions than answers, and they will hope to correct their form as soon as possible or risk falling behind in the table very early in the season.
Delhi's standout performers from the first game were a quartet of old hands and new, Balwant Singh and Arnoldinho the ones whose effect was registered on the result itself, the latter's cross headed home by Balwant to give them a valuable point at home.
The game also provides Delhi FC a chance to heal an old wound, inflicted by Rajasthan United in 2021. In the I-League Qualifiers that season Rajasthan United had gone in as an unknown quantity, up battling the heavyweights of which Delhi FC were a part. As it was though, in the final round of games Rajasthan beat Delhi FC 1-0 and ended up scripting a dramatic and unbelievable story rising to the ranks of the I-League. Delhi meanwhile took two more turns before taking their place at a table that was long considered their due.
Times have changed massively though, and so have the personnel. Rajasthan United coach Pushpender Kundu, while disappointed with the result from Srinagar also pointed to how difficult it was to play in those conditions for any away side.
"It wasn't our day, but we've already moved on from it," he said. "I believe my players are mentally very strong. In training, we've already discussed how to move on and prepare to go ahead. Teams get better match by match and this gives us a second opportunity. We know the importance of logging some points on the board and we are ready to challenge Delhi FC for that.'
For coach Yan Law the opening game result, while commendable, was important to underline the importance of building trust in the squad and the style of football the team wants to play.
'An advantage we have in this game is that we know how Rajasthan will play, having seen them in the game against RKFC,' he said. 'We have analysed their game and will make squad changes and adjustments accordingly. It's also important because the matches come quickly so rotation will be a key component for the season.'