New Delhi: A belated birthday gift it may be but marquee player Alessandro Del Piero would still be happy, and more importantly relieved, if Delhi Dynamos are able to break their winless streak when they take on FC Goa in a match of laggards in the Indian Super League on Thursday.
The match at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium will be an opportunity for the two bottom-placed teams to make an effort to climb up ladder.
While the Dynamos are struggling at the seventh place following four draws, two losses and a solitary win, FC Goa are at the bottom with four defeats, two draws and a win in the eight-team franchise-based league.
Any more slip-ups could cost both the teams dear, virtually ruling them out of semi-finals contention in the inaugural edition of the league.
Despite the presence of legends such as Del Piero, Zico (Goa's coach) and Robert Pires in their ranks, both Delhi and Goa have struggled to find their bearings, often lacking in ideas when it came to converting chances.
Dynamos will hope that the trio of Juventus legend Del Piero, a World Cup winner with Italy in 2006, Morten Skoubo and Mads Junker combine upfront to give the goals.
Wim Raymaekers will be there at the heart of defence alongside Souvik Chakraborthy, and they are expected to be supported by Stijn Houben and Indian players like Nouba Singh and Anwar Ali.
Besides, the home team will have an option in Brazilian Gustavo Santos who has been doing a good job in the middle of the park as well as in creating openings. On the wings, Steven Dias, who did not play in their last goal-less draw against Kerala Blasters, will be expected to play a crucial role alongside Shylo Malswamtluanga.
In the midfield, the hosts will also have the services of Pavel Elias and Hans Mulder.
After their back-to-back defeats at the hands of FC Goa away and Mumbai City FC, Delhi Dynamos were searching for a win in their last match to boost their confidence but all they could manage was a draw, and coach Harm van Veldhoven's boys would be keen to end the winless streak in front of the home crowd.
Dutchman Veldhoven was sent off in their last match and is unlikely to sit in the Dynamos dugout.
Moved he may be by the reception he had received on his 40th birthday, but only a win can be an appropriate gift for Del Piero and the other players.
Rooted at the bottom of the table with five points, FC Goa also have problems in plenty with the team not able to deliver the goods despite being coached by the legendary Brazilian who is often called the greatest footballer to have not won a World Cup.
One of the best players to have played for English Premier League giants Arsenal, Frenchman Pires will have to inspire what looks like a dejected outfit.
While Pires will be holding fort in the midfield along with Romeo Fernandes, Mandar Rao Desai and Bruno Pinheiro, the attack will be taken care of by Australian Tolgay Ozbey.
The defence will be manned by Gregory Arnolin, Narayan Das, Debabrata Das and Youness Bengelloun.
While the Ranti Martins can be used upfront, the Goa team has the option of playing Indian footballers Alwyn George and Clifford Miranda.