Coach Chencho Dorji emphasised the need to stay positive despite the circumstances and credited a young squad for doing so in a tough period for the team. Consistency, he believes will yield the required results.

Sudeva Delhi FC Media

It is time to regroup for the Sudeva Delhi FC players in the bio bubble and it is not an easy task, head coach Chencho Dorji said ahead of the club’s final first-round I-League match against TRAU. 

It has been a shaky week for Sudeva, a 0-1 to Gokulam Kerala putting paid to their chances of a top-six finish in their debut season. Understandably the mood was despondent but regardless the grind has continued. As things stand, Sudeva will now play the bottom five teams in the second round of fixtures, and coach Dorji wants the players to finish at the top of the bottom pile.

“Finishing seventh would be a very creditable performance for the boys considering the factors involved,” says Dorji. “With so many youngsters in the squad, everything has been a learning experience, and the players have responded well. All I have expected from them and kept telling them was to ensure consistency. We wanted to be in the top six but that disappointment apart, we have always wanted to perform well in every single match. And that is what we are going to do in the coming matches.”

Of course, it is easier said than done. Being in the bio bubble, with very few avenues to blow out the steam, the losses, against NEROCA FC and Gokulam, have been tough to overcome. And keeping the players motivated and focused on the upcoming matches is going to be hard. The team had their first opportunity for some non-football related outside time yesterday, given time in the hotel courtyard for some ‘fun time’. 

It ended up a fun exercise, where the team played a chit game, with every player asked to perform a random task dependent on the chit they pulled. Let’s just say mimicry was on the agenda, and some of the mimics were world-class. A young squad has its moments on and off the pitch. And sometimes things work out.

“We have seven players who are below the age of 22 in the squad,” Dorji said. “And I am not taking it as an excuse but we have an all Indian squad as well. But we have been clear right from the opening match. It is going to be a team effort. And by a team effort, I mean everyone playing, everything chipping in, and everyone gaining experience. That is the reason why in a crucial match such as the one against Gokulam, we gave a few youngsters a chance to perform in a do-or-die situation. 

“The result was unfortunate. But in the 90 minutes, I would say the players fared really well. And that is important for us.”

TRAU are tricky opponents for Sudeva. The Manipuri outfit is coming off a big victory against Indian Arrows and brimming with confidence. Furthermore, they will be keen to earn full points to seal a top-six place. Sudeva is gunning to put the disappointment behind them and begin their quest to finish seventh in the standings from the TRAU match. It all mixes well for a heady encounter with both sides having a lot to gain, and a lot to lose as well. Crunch time indeed!