League leaders Dempo Sports Club resume their quest for an unprecedented and never done before fifth League title as the Blue Brigade take on bottom placed HAL SC in the first match under lights at the Nehru Stadium in Fatorda for seven long years.
Dempo will look to extend their lead at the top to nine points by the time Mohun Bagan and East Bengalplay their respective matches the next day. Securing the three points will be crucial for the league leaders as it will mean they will put pressure on their Kolkata rivals to secure all three points in their respective game. Coach Armando Colaco will return to the team after a month out due to illness. Assistant coach Mauricio Afonso who has managed the team brilliantly in Armando’s absence, winning the Goa League and the Goa Super Cup will be his assistant. Dempo played their last match against Pailan Arrows on the 12th of February beating the AIFF developmental side 2-0 courtesy a brace from Nigerian Ranti Martins.
Team News: Dempo
Dempo are in a reasonably good run of form having annexed the Goa Professional League and the Goa Super Cup during the break. They have also lost just one of their last seven games in the I-League, their last defeat coming at the hands of Pune FC inGoa. Dempo coach Armando Colaco stated that he was confident about his side securing all three points against the lowest ranked team in the League. Dempo have a few injury worries. Clifford Miranda injured himself at theIndiacamp and didn’t make the grade to the AFC Challenge Cup team. He is touch and go for this game but if he is declared unfit then Peter Carvalho will in all probability replace him in the line-up. Coach Armando also has the choice of playing Anthony Pereira on the left and young Romeo Fernandes- who has been brilliant in the Goa League- on the right. The rest of the team will remain unchanged. Debabrata Roy and Samir Naik will play at left and right back respectively while Cresson Antao and Mahesh Gawli will man the defense. The midfield will have Climax Lawrence, Densill Theobald, Anthony Pereira and Peter Carvalho while Ranti Martins and Koko Sakibo will play up front. Subhasish will stand beneath the posts. Japanese Yusuke Kato will start on the bench and could come on as a substitute.
Team News: HAL
For HAL a defeat would mean they would be almost condemned to relegation. They are technically seven points away from safety but Pailan Arrows’ insulation to relegation means that they are ten points from the drop zone. They have the worst defensive record and have conceded 45 goals in 20 matches. Coach K. Muralidharan will have his first choice keeper suspended for this game. The break must have helped the coach iron out the defects and they would be raring to go. HAL beat Dempo in the corresponding fixture last season on the final day to avoid relegation. Xavier Vijaykumar was the hero that day. This time though hey are in a much more precarious situation and a win too may not be enough for the Bangaloreans.
Players to watch out:
Ranti Martins (Dempo)
R.C. Prakash (HAL)
Dempo 3-0 HAL
Dempo 2-0 HAL (28th December 2011, Bangalore)