Continuing our review of Dempo Sports Club’s fabulous I-League victory, we look at the five best players that played an important role in Dempo’s record fifth I-league title. We wish to inform all our readers and fans that each and every member of the team and support staff played a crucial role in the team’s success. However by acknowledging some of the players we wish to inform our fans that these five players played their hearts out at every game and helped the teams cause to a great extent. So here are our five best players whom we feel played a major role in the teams success this season:
The 28 year old lanky defender from Majorda had arguably his greatest ever season in the blue jersey. The former Fransa defender since his arrival in 2006 has always played in the shadows of Mahesh Gawli or John Dias for that matter. But this year was something special for Cresson. The arrival of two central defenders in Rowilson Rodrigues and Selwyn Fernandes did not make Cresson an automatic starter at stopper back. But he fought his way up and once he got his chance there was no looking back for him. He had the distinction of being one of the most capped players for Dempo this season. He missed just two games in the League due to suspension The fact that Dempo had the second best defensive record in the League would be enough to suggest that Cresson had an outstanding season. In fact Dempo, were one of the few teams that had an all Indian defense, and still managed to be the second meanest defense in the League, ridiculing teams like Prayag United and Sporting Clube de Goa who had foreign defenders and yet conceded a truckload of goals. Ask Cresson and he would tell you that defending against the likes of Jose Barreto, Tolgay Ozbay and Odafa Okolie was no easy task but he credits his good performance the calming influence of Mahesh Gawli at the back. Cresson regards games against Mohun Bagan in Kolkata and East Bengal inGoaas his personal bests this season.
Mahesh Gawli’s class is unquestionable. For years now he has been the best defender of his generation and probably one of the greatest thatIndiahas ever produced. Retirement from national duty this year meant that he had a relatively injury free year due to the fewer number of games and his club Dempo were the biggest beneficiaries. Right from the word go, Mahesh was rock solid this season. He won the Man of The Match in the first game against Salgaocar and from then on, it was no looking back for him. There were 12 clean sheets for Dempo this season and it was largely due to the efforts of Mahesh and company. His fitness levels this season was outstanding, a testament to the fact that he missed only two games in the entire I-League. Wearing the captain’s armband and holding the trophy aloft made the season even more special for the former Jarnail Singh awardee. He rates his performance against Salgaocar in the opening fixture as his personal best and also the game against Churchill which was a very high pressure game.
He has been one of Dempo’s best players in the past few years, probably Armando Colaco’s greatest signing. There was an avalanche of goals this season for the Nigerian. After his 28 goals last year, Ranti surpassed his previous years tally by four goals scoring an astounding 32 goals to win the Golden Boot for the second year running. The highlight of the season was no doubt his four goals against Sporting Clube de Goa which included a Thierry Henry like reverse kick past a hapless looking Sporting keeper Ashok Singh. Ranti also pocketed the Best Foreign Player Of The Season award, the Best Striker and the Best Player Awards by the AIFF. Ranti left from where he started last season, where he scored six goals in one game against AirIndiaand overtook Odafa to become the highest scorer last season. His form even in the Goa League was outstanding. The 5-0 demolition of Mohun Bagan inGoawas one of his best performances this season and it included one 35 yarder that dipped viciously past Sangram Mukherjee. Had Ranti not displayed prodigality in front of goal on many occasions he could have easily touched the 40 goal barrier in the League. His 32 goals was more than half of Dempo’s total of 59 goals scored in the League.
Ever since he joined Dempo from Mahindra United in the 2010-11 season, Debabrata has been Armando’s most trusted lieutenant. He was also one of the most capped players this season for Dempo- starting in 9 of the 13 Goa League games, all three Federation Cup matches and 25 of the 26 I-League games, a remarkable achievement. In the past two years fans have rarely seen a player at left back position for Dempo other than Debabrata Roy. His darting overlaps was the hallmark of his game this season. He rates his performance in the game against East Bengal inGoa-where he won the Man of the Match award- as his best of the season.
Well, what can you say about this man. One of the best central midfielders of his generation and when formerIndiacoach Stephen Constantine once said that Climax was the only Indian player who was irreplaceable, you knew that this player was someone special. He had another great season for Dempo that was vindicated by his peers and fellow coaches who voted him as the AIFF’s Midfielder Of The Season. Climax started 23 of the 26 games this season a testament to his fitness even at his age. At the start his partnership with Peter Carvalho in the absence of Densill Theobald was a crucial factor in Dempo’s run of seven straight victories. He also adapted well to both his central midfield partners a fact rarely acknowledged by football pundits inIndia. At the start of the season he played a more of a playmakers role allowing Peter Carvalho to do what he was most comfortable at- sit deep and break down opposition attacks. When Densill Theobald made his debut, Climax sat deep and sacrificed his attacking instincts to allow Theobald more freedom to move ahead and feed the strikers. Dempo willl no doubt be the biggest beneficiary of his decision to hang up his national boots as it would give him a chance to concentrate fully on club matches as Dempo look to make a mark in Asia his season.