Doha, 22 October 2017. In preparation for season four of the Indian Super League (ISL) starting in mid-November, Delhi Dynamos FC – the only club representing Northern India in the league – concluded its two-week pre-season training camp at Aspire Academy on Thursday. During the training camp, Delhi Dynamos FC played friendlies against QNB Stars League teams: Muaither S.C, Al-Wakrah SC and the Military Team. Aspetar, Qatar’s orthopaedic and sports medicine hospital, also provided cardiology screening for the players.
Spanish great Xavi Hernandez showed up for Delhi Dynamos FC’s last training session, during which he said: “It’s my pleasure to be here to see Delhi Dynamos FC. I wish all the best to them. They have a very good coach, have preparing well and hopefully they’ll win many titles this year.”
Meanwhile, fellow Spaniard, Eduardo Montoya, expressed delight at being in Doha, which he said on the sidelines of the training session was “similar to home”. Commenting on the visit and Qatar’s World Cup preparations, Montoya said: “It’s good to come to Doha after our first training camp in Spain to be exposed to different environments and weather conditions. Qatar is witnessing amazing growth and, in 2022, Doha will be a great place to visit for the World Cup.”
When asked about what it means for an Arab country to host this tournament for this first time, Montoya added: “I’m very glad to see a country with a different culture such as Qatar host the World Cup. Football is for all, not only for Europe or for America, and people will enjoy their time here.”
Young Albino Gomes, who was selected to be the goalkeeper for the India U23 side taking part in the 2017 AFC U23 qualifiers, praised Aspire Academy’s facilities and said the training camp provided the team with access to world-class pitches and facilities that aren’t always available in India. Looking ahead to this upcoming ISL season, Gomes said: “Our training in Aspire Academy follows a two-week training camp in León, Spain. We’re quite pleased with our preparations and we look forward to the start of the fourth ISL season.”
The training camp comes only a few months after Aspire Academy and the Delhi Dynamos FC signed a technical partnership that will see the world-renowned Academy share its football knowhow and management expertise (including coaching, training, scouting and sports science) with the club to help Delhi Dynamos achieve success on the pitch. In an early sign of the impact and benefit the partnership has created , Aspire Academy played a crucial role in the search for Delhi Dynamos’ Spanish Head Coach, Miguel Angel Portugal, who joined the club last July.
Commenting on the existing partnership between the two, Aspire Academy’s Director General, Ivan Bravo, said: “The Indian team approached us earlier this year saying they’re very impressed with the work that Aspire Academy does in the world of football, which in turn is positively reflects on Qatar’s football scene. They said we’re a young team in a new league and we would love to have you manage the football operations. We thought it was a great opportunity for us to showcase our expertise to help them compete and hopefully win the league, especially in a largely populated country where matches can attract more than 70 thousand fans.”
Delhi Dynamos FC Head coach Miguel Portugal added: “The Academy provides a lot of resources and expertise to help the young footballers from India who come here to train so that, one day, they can transfer the knowledge they learn here back into Indian football and help the sport develop over the long term.”