Dempo Sports Club youth team coach Mr. Mathew D’Costa who was the head coach for the Santosh Trophy team, was disappointed after Goa failed to make it to the semi-finals of the prestigious tournament. Goa was clubbed with Manipur, Meghalaya and Uttar Pradesh in the Quaterfinal League round, Group B, and were one of the favourites to qualify for the semi finals. Except for Manipur, no other team was expected to give Goa a tough fight.
The Goa team included a lone player from Dempo, left back, Jessel Carneiro, but over all the squad was well balanced with the likes of Gabriel Fernandes from Sesa, Sachin Gawas and Joel Sequeira from ONGC. The squad also had some seasoned campaigners like Fulgencio Cardozo, Donald Rocha, Agnelo Colaco and Jerose Oliveira along with young promising players like Macklas Moraes and Keenan Almeida.
In their first game Goa outplayed Uttar Pradesh 2-0 to claim all three points. The team took a while to settle and in the second half scored two goals to win their first game.
In the second match Goa got the better of Meghalaya 2-1, Gabriel Fernandes netting the winner three minutes from time. Dempo’s Jessel Carneiro missed that game due to a groin strain. It was a second half show too in that game. Sachin Gawas gave Goa the lead in the 65th minute, but a goalkeeping error allowed Meghalaya to eqaulise. Three minutes before time, Gabriel Fernandes got Goa the winner.
Going into the final game, Goa and Manipur were level on points but Manipur’s 6-0 thrashing of Uttar Pradesh meant that they topped the group on higher goal difference of +7 compared toGoa’s +3. That eant thatGoawere in a must win situation going into the final game.
In the game against Manipur, Goa put up a brilliant first half show ad were leading 2-1 at half time. But twenty five minutes into the game it looked as ifGoawere going to have it tough after Manipur took the lead. But ten minutes later gopa equalized through Gabriel Fernanders who scored his third goal of the campaign.Goathen took the lead just before the first half could end when Pratesh Shrodkar curled in a free kick. Goa were leading a half time and wre in contention for a semi-final berth but 21 minutes into the second half, Manipr equalized to earn the point that they needed.
Goa were unlucky to bow out without losing a single game. When contacted Goa coach Mathew D’Costa felt that they were unlucky not to qualify despite not losing a game. He also felt that the team took a while to settle down before they played some attacking football. He singled out Pratesh Shirodkar, Gabriel Fernandes as players to look out for in the future.
Dempo’s lone player Jessel Carneiro too was disappointed with Goa losing out on a semi-final place. “Overall it was a great experience since it was my first Santosh Trrphy, but we were unlucky not to reach the semis. I was satisfied with my performance although I missed the second game due to injury. I will work hard this year and try and break in to the first team at Dempo” said the left back.