Trust champion teams to throb right till the death and never say die. On Sunday, Dempo Sports Club gave every reason to believe that they have a never say die attitude after Japanese striker Ryuji Sueoka blasted home a spot kick in the 93rd minute to give Dempo all three points against a spirited United Sikkim Football Club.
Dempo started with one change from the team that played Sporting Clube de Goa. Koko Sakibo was handed a start while birthday boy Joaquim Abranches started on the bench. The rest of the team remained unchanged as once again Armando Colaco preferred to start with Rohan Ricketts in the hole behind the two strikers and Peter Carvalho as the anchor man in midfield leaving Climax Lawrence on the bench.
United Sikkim apppiled on the early pressure on the visitors in front of a packed crowd. Dempo custodian Subhasish Roy Chowdhury was put under early pressure following a barrage of raids on the Dempo citadel. The home crowd went into raptures when former Dempo player and USFC captain Anwar Ali had the ball in the net after just ten minutes. But referee Pratap Singh disallowed the goal.
But it was Dempo who took the lead against the run of play when Koko Sakibo scored with a firm header in the 21st minute.
That goal though didn’t allow Dempo to dominate the game and once again the home team regained the momentum constantly raiding the Dempo goal.
But Dempo held fort till half time although United Sikkim had two clear chances to get the equalizer. First Budhiram Tudu missed an easy chance. Then it was Linekar Machado who dribbled past three defenders but then unleashed a weak shot that was easily saved by Dempo keepr Subhasish Roy.
Sikkim came out all guns blazing in the second half and deservedly found the equalizer in the 57th minute when Nuruddin Salau scored through a snapshot from close range.
The Snow Lions looked like holding for a precious point as neither team looked like taking the lead after that. Rohan Ricketts soon made way for Climax Lawrence and twenty minutes after being on the pitch the former India captain won a penalty in the third minute of stoppage time that was converted by Ryuji Sueoka to give his side all three points. More drama unfolded towards the end after Peter Carvalho fell to the ground after being allegedly slapped by Sikkim defender Sandesh Jnigjhan earning him a red card.
Dempo coach Armando Colaco admitted that United Sikkim was a better side on Sunday.
“UnitedSikkim played better in its home ground and with full crowd support. Luckily we got 3 points and it is the experience of Dempo players that led to the victory”, he said.
Dempo now travel to Kolkata to play East Bengal on the 3rd of November.