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ISL 2018-19: Albino Gomes holds key to turnaround Delhi Dynamos' season

05:35 GMT+4 25/11/2018
Albino Gomes Delhi Dynamos ISL 5
The custodian is eating up minutes of a foreign attacker without even playing ....

When youngster Albino Gomes signed for Delhi Dynamos from Mumbai City, the expectations were definitely high. The limit on the number of foreign players allowed on the pitch (5) and the logical choice of having the foreigners at attacking players has further increased the demand for and expectations from an Indian goalkeeper.

Recipient of a fat pay-check, the Goa-born custodian has failed to deliver due to reasons in and out of his control. A knee injury last season meant he has played only than 400 minutes.till date for Delhi. The shot-stopper who rose to fame after Aizawl’s fairytale 2016-17 I-League campaign had to wait for an opportunity to prove himself again in the Indian Super League (ISL). 

New coach Josep Gombau chose to sign Francisco Dorronsoro despite having Gomes in the squad. Clearly, the coach prefers his compatriot over the Goan.

Dorronsoro has had his highs and lows with the club. The incredible performance against holders Chennaiyin FC which won Delhi a point was one of his better performances but he was average against FC Goa.

However, fielding Dorronsoro in goal meant Delhi were left short-changed in attack. Given the fact that Gombau can only play four foreigners in the outfield, Delhi have not looked threatening upfront at all. Andrija Kaluderovic, Rene Mihelic, Adria Carmona et al have not been fielded together and on the instances they have played together, Delhi have looked a much better side up front.

This has forced Gombau to hand Gomes a place back in the starting XI in the recent games. Now Gomes has to work hard and claim his spot ahead of the 33-year-old.

Striker Andrija Kaluderovic has taken part in all of Delhi’s eight fixtures and scored just one goal. Spanish winger Adria Carmona has had his minutes cut down due to this conundrum.

In the games in which Carmona has featured for at least 45 minutes, he’s made a case for a spot in the starting line-up. The Spaniard started in Delhi’s 3-2 defeat against Goa and was impressive but had to make way for Rene Mihelic at the hour mark.

A classic example of how fielding Gomes ahead of Dorronsoro can help Delhi’s attack can be found in their 2-2 draw against Jamshedpur. At half-time, Gomes replaced Dorronsoro to relish his first few minutes of the season. This substitution allowed the pair of Kaludjerovic and Carmona to make an appearance at the cost of Mihelic and Shubham Sarangi.

The capital team would then go on to score two goals in quick succession through Lallianzuala Chhangte and the substitute Carmona. Jamshedpur eventually equalised and shared spoils with the hosts but that should not take anything away from the immediate impact the triple-substitution had on the game.

Delhi have scored just seven goals in their eight games and conceded 13. Delhi are the joint-lowest scoring in the team and their negative goal difference in the second-worst in the league. To say that the capital team is underperforming would be an understatement. Delhi have failed to win a single game this season and the fingers would first point to the impotent attack that has been drawing blanks since the beginning of the season. If the attack is underperforming, why not play your best foreigners upfront? 

The defence shares equal blame and has to step up to prevent further humiliation as the tournament takes shape. 

Gomes was one of the first picks for Delhi Dynamos in the ISL draft last year and is on a big money contract. Why did the club go for a foreign goalkeeper this year then? If the club are not convinced on Albino, why recruit him on a high wage? Anyway, that particular strategy has backfired now. 

Also, a foreign goalkeeper does not make much of a difference if your defence is not strong. Delhi's defence has not been so since the last season. 

Delhi’s next game is against Bengaluru FC at the Sri Kanteerava and the former can’t ask for a better opportunity to turn their season around. An away win against one of the best teams in the league should provide a good foundation to build the season on. Delhi must step up. Gomes must step up.