Dempo Sports Club is looking up to their new recruits Tolgay Ozbey, Amiri and Sanju Pradhan to make an impact at Federation Cup, which begins in Kerala from January 14.
Placed in a relatively easier group, the golden eagles will fancy their chances of reaching the semi-finals in the football’s premier domestic tournament, which will be held in Kerala. Dempo have been clubbed with two non I-League clubs — United Sikkim and Bhawanipore — alongside Kolkata giants Mohammedan Sporting.
Pradhan, a 24-year-old midfielder, has been roped in by the five-time national league champions to give impetus to their campaign in the second half of the I-League. He be resourceful in the midfield as well as in the attack.
Dempo, who are in a transitional phase and building a young team for the future under Australian coach Arthur Papas, are lying 10th on the I-League table. Papas believes Pradhan, who has joined Dempo on loan from IMG-Reliance, can play a crucial role to improve the results of the club.
“Sanju is a player with a lot of experience and a very professional attitude. He possesses creative instincts in the attacking third and can play the final ball and score goals. He will be an important team member,” Papas told ‘Goal.com’, speaking about his plans for the former East Bengal captain.
Australian Tolgay Ozbey signed a deal with Dempo on the second week of January to boost the attack for last editions finalist. Dempo SC didn’t have a good run at goal scoring in the first phase and as such had to release their former Irish striker Billy Mehmet. Tolgay had been fairly successful in this earlier stint at Mohammendan where he scored four goals in their Durand Cup campaign.
Haroon Amiri is the latest signing by the Golden eagles and he adds strength to the Dempo defence. The Afghani player has been impressive during his stint at Mumbai FC and had a major role to play in Afghanistan’s 2-0 win over India in the SAFF Cup in 2013. He was also voted for the FPAI Fans player of the year award.
With Dempo playing eight of their nine remaining I-League matches in Goa, Head Coach Arthur Papas says his team can produce better results using the “home advantage”.
“Playing at home is only an advantage when you understand how to make it an intimidating environment, which comes from both crowd support, player mindset and playing without fear to control matches,” Papas said.
“Very simply our performances thus far need to be converted into victories and my players showed enough grit and determination in the month of December, playing the whole month with sometimes no foreigners and at other times one to tell me they are up for this battle.”
Speaking about the team’s preparations for the Federation Cup, Papas revealed he has some injury concerns to deal with.
“There are still two to three injury concerns for the Federation Cup or players who are not at hundred percent match fitness, so we will have to see how they progress over the week,” he said.