Sudeva Delhi FC are set to play their first-ever I-League match at home in New Delhi against Mumbai Kenkre FC at the Chhatrasal Stadium on November 14 at 4:30pm.
Both sides finished in the bottom half of the table last season and will be targetting significant improvements this time around. Sudeva Delhi have had a revolutionary transfer window. After playing the last two seasons with an all-Indian squad, the capital-based side signed their first-ever group of six foreign players under new Japanese head coach Atsushi Nakamura.
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In the pre-match press conference, Nakamura spoke about the difference foreign players will make this season. “The likes of Daneil Cyrus, Kosuke Yamazaki and Felix Chidi Odili add a lot of experience to the squad. Their good technique will also benefit us this season.”
The last two I-League seasons were held entirely in Kolkata due to the pandemic, but the return of the home-and-away format will finally allow Sudeva Delhi to play in their home city. “Of course, we want to win our first game in Delhi and we’re confident about it,” said Nakamura.
Sudeva Delhi’s new captain, Nishchal Chandan, is looking forward to the first game of the season on Monday. “All the players are very excited to play in Delhi in front of a crowd. I would like to request everyone to come, support us and be our 12th man. We are not going to let our fans down.”
Chandan had a fantastic debut season individually in the 2021-22 I-League, which has earned him the captain’s armband this season. The centre-back is determined to help his team finish as high as possible this time around. “We want to improve our position on the table. We’ll go step by step and take it one game at a time,” said the 23-year-old.
Mumbai Kenkre FC ended last season at the bottom of the standings in the relegation zone. Now leading the club in its second season in the competition, head coach Akhil Kothari is bent on delivering a much better performance.
“We did well in the latter part of last season and grew in confidence. We want to continue from where we left off and are looking forward to the start of the new season,” he said.
Midfielder Kiran Pandhare has been a part of Mumbai Kenkre since winning promotion from the I-League Qualifiers in 2021. The 28-year-old is excited to start his third season with the club and wants to target three points in every game.
“We had a good pre-season. We played in the Baji Rout Cup in Odisha last week, which helped us in our preparations. We are very confident ahead of the Hero I-League season,” said Pandhare.