Dempo geared up for Pailan showdown





The countdown has well and truly begun. From now on every match is crucial, every decision will be viewed with scrutiny, every substitution will be viewed under the microscope, finger nails will be chewed up by fans and some heartbeats will be skipped. With seven rounds left to be played every team knows that one slip up and the title could slip away from their hands, and as Dempo take on Pailan Arrows in Kolkata, the four time champions know that winning is the only option. Stung by a 1-0 reverse last Sunday, Mauricio Afonso’s Dempo are keen to make amends against the youngest team of the I-League. “There is no easy game from now on. Every game is a must win. We need to remain focused and play hard and tough football”, said Mauricio Afonso after putting his team through the paces in Kolkata. Mauricio’s focus is for all to see. The Chinchinnim based former Dempo and India player is determined to take Dempo home to their fifth title. “We need to remain focused at the job at hand. they made life tough for Salgaocar with their long ball strategy, we need to guard against that”, he said. Dempo’s advantage is the fact that this is not the first time they have been in this situation and they have the experience of handling the pressure cooker situations. In 2004-05, Dempo won the title on the last day of the season at Tilak after Sporting lost to Mahindra that same evening at Fatorda. Also in the 2007-08 season Dempo won the I-League, pipping Churchill Brothers on goal difference. The experiences of those two seasons will hold Dempo in good stead as they mount one final challenge to regain the title they lost to Salgaocar last season.


Debabrata Roy has been suspended with two yellow cards and Marcus Peixoto has been drafted into the squad. However it will be Samir Naik who will mostly be at left back with Valeriano Rebello taking his place at right back. Cresson Antao and Mahesh Gawli will continue to be the central midfield pair. The midfield will remain unchanged with the quartet of Anthony Pereira, Clifford Miranda, Climax Lawrence and Densill Theobald making up the numbers. Ranti Martins and Koko Sakibo will be the strikers although Japanese Yusuke Kato who has been impressive at training will have a role to play in the match for sure. Subhasish Roy Chowdhury will continue to man the posts.


Playing at the astro turf of the Salt Lake stadium at 2 pm in the afternoon is never easy and Dempo will know that they will have to play very well to secure the three points. Under the absence of coach Sukhwinder Singh who has resigned due to personal reasons, assistant coach Sujit Chakraborty and goalkeeping coach Tanumoy Basu will be in charge of the team. They have some good young players in their ranks. Prathamesh Maulingkar, the former Dempo juniors player will be the automatic choice in central defense. The lanky 6”1’ defender has been one of the finds of the season for Pailan Arrows. He will be up against his former team and he would know a trick or two about how to stop the rampaging Koko Sakibo and Ranti Martins. In midfield they have the young Bijen Rai, former Royal Wahingdoh player who has joined them his season. C.S. Sabeeth, national team player will be another player who will look to trouble the Dempo defensive pair of Mahesh Gawli and Cresson Antao. Pailan Arrows are known to play the long ball strategy and set piece play. They frustrated Salgaocar in their earlier home match and Dempo will have to be patient to score goals. Crosses will have to come in from Anthony Pereira and Clifford Miranda while Densill and Climax will have to constantly supply through balls from the centre of midfield.


Pailan Arrows frustrated Dempo for 70 long minutes in the first leg at the Tilak Maidan, Vasco Goa. The small playing surface didn’t help Dempo’’s cause either and they closed down space very quickly not allowing the Dempo strikers to move. But an inspired substitution by Armando Colaco who brought in Koko Sakibo turned the game on its head. The Nigerian scored one himself and created another for Ranti Martins to tap in. Godwin Franco scored his first Dempo goal in the I-League with a blistering free kick and Dempo emerged winners with a 3-0 margin

Dempo 3-0 Pailan Arrows
Koko Sakibo, Ranti Martins and Godwin Franco

The Japanese has just joined Dempom last week and looks to be in good shape. He has impressed in training and has a good first touch. He will most likely have a role to play in the match and Dempo fans will be hoping he scores on debut.

Pailan Arrows 0-3 Dempo