I-League Mid Season Review

The I-League has reached the half way mark and is heading towards an exciting finish as leaders Dempo Sports Club after suffering a blip, recovered well to post victories in back to back games against Sporting Clube de Goa and HAL. demposportsclub.com, reviews the first phase of the season.

 

22nd October 2011:

SALGAOCAR
V
DEMPO

The first match of any competition is always going to be a cagey affair and it was no surprise that the Goan derby was low on entertainment as both teams tried to gauge the strengths and weaknesses of their opponents. Salgaocar came into the season as the defending champions and were on a high after winning the Federation Cup and narrowly losing out to East Bengal on penalties in the Super Cup. The first half was goalless and not many chnces were created by either team. Eight minutes from the end, Ranti Martins latched on to a missd pass by the Salgaocar defense to bury that ball past a diving Karanjit Singh to give Dempo an opening day win in the I-League.

Salgaocar 0-1 Dempo
Man of The Match: Mahesh Gawli

 

27th October 2011:

DEMPO

V

MUMBAI FC

This was Dempo’s first match of the season and they came out all guns blazing. Dempo completely dominated proceedings right from the start and were unlucky not to be at least three goals up in the first twenty minutes. The Blues opened the scoring in the 36th minute after Clifford collected a loose ball from midfield and put it in the back of the net. It stayed that way till the break as Dempo continued to miss some guilt edged chances. Soon after the break however, Dempo made it 2-0 after a rare header by Ranti Martins off a Clifford Miranda cross. Dempo were completely dominating proceedings from this point on and it was no surprise that they scored the third in the 72nd minute when Ranty Martins was on target again after Koko Sakibo found him in space with a delightful ball. Dempo completed the rout in the 84th minute through winger Anthony Pereira who received a pass from substitute Godwin Franco.

Dempo 4-0 Mumbai FC
Man of the Match: Ranti Martins

 

2nd November 2011:

DEMPO

V
MOHUN BAGAN

Arguably one of the best matches that Dempo played so far this season. Mohun Bagan were on high after winning their opening two games and boasted of a superb squad consisting of Hudson Lima, Jewel Raja, Rakesh Masih and Sunil Chhetri. Though Odafa Okolie and Jose Barreto were missing, they were still a formidable team. But there was no stopping Dempo that day. A first half blitzkrieg from Dempo saw them race to a 4-0 lead after just 38 minutes. The capacity crowd at Fatorda was treated to some free flowing football and sensational goals. Ranti Martins opened the scoring in the 9th minute after his shot from 30 yards out dipped at the last moment and flummoxed Sangram Mukherjee in the Mohun Bagan goal. It was surely one of the contenders for goal of the season. A minute later young joaquim Abranches made it 2-0 after Ranti Martins put in a brilliant through ball and caught the entire Bagan defense sleeping. Dempo could have been two more goals up in the next ten minutes but some prodigality from Abranches and Ranti saw them missing pretty easy chances. It was left to Samir Naik, to score a rare goal after another mix up in the Bagan defense allowed the unmarked India defender to place the ball in the right corner. Just before half time Ranti made it 4-0 and scored his second after Joaquim Abranches fed him with a great ball. Just after the break Dempo, bulged the net again through Joaquim Abranches who atoned for his earlier misses. The match finished 5-0 and Dempo had earned their biggest win over Mohun Bagan in recent memory.

Dempo 5-0 Mohun Bagan
Man of the Match: Joaquim Abranches

 

6th November 2011:

DEMPO

V
PAILAN ARROWS

The scene shifted to the Tilak Maidan in Round 4 due to the unavailability of the Nehru stadium against the youngest team of the I-League. The small and uneven ground at Goa’s port town made it difficult for Dempo to play their passing brand of football. The first half finished goalless and the young team from Bengal were frustrating the former chamuions by closing down space quickly and not allowing Dempo to pass the ball. The hard bouncy surface didn’t help Dempo’s cause either. After half tIme the same story continued with Dempo unable to find the rhythm to get past the Pailan defense. At the 70 minute mark though, Armando Colaco made an inspired substitution vringing Koko Sakibo in place of Joaquim Abranches and this move immediately paid dividends. Koko with his busrts of speed and deft touches maneuvered his way through the Pailan defense ane neatly placed the ball past the goalkeeper to break the deadlock and score his first I-League goal for Dempo. Four minutes later, Koko turned provider for Ranti this time to double Dempo’s lead and put the game beyond doubt. The two Nigerians combined again in the 79th minute to earn a free kick just outside the box. Godwin Franco unleashed a rasping drive to beat the keeper and make it 3-0. Incidentally this was also Godwin’s first I-League goal for Dempo.

Dempo 3-0 Pailan Arrows
Man of The Match: Ranti Martins

 

10th November:

CHIRAG UNITED KERALA

V
DEMPO

It was Dempo’s second away game but the first time they traveled outside Goa. The first away game ws always going to be tricky especially after Kerala were on a decent run of form. The uneven Municipality Stadium ground at Kannur was going to be another test for Dempo. But they passed that test without any problems racing to a 2-0 lead in the first 40 minutes, both the goals coming from the head and boot of Nigerian Ranti Martins. The first came in the 10th minute after a cross from Clifford Miranda was headed in by Ranti. At the 40 minute mark Ranti capitalized on a defensive error to score Dempo’s second goal. Chirag Kerala pulled one back late in the second half but Dempo held their nerve to manage all three points and score their fifth win on the trot.

Chirag Kerala 1-2 Dempo
Man of the Match: Koko Sakibo

 

 

19th November 2011:

CHIRAG UNITED PUNE FC

V
DEMPO

Dempo traveled to Pune keen on avenging the 3-2 loss against the Red Lizards last season. Dempo played an attacking game right from the start and were rewarded with a 15th minute strike from Cliffored Miranda. But after 25 minutes they found themselves on level terms courtesy a Jeje Lalpekhlua strike. Four minutes before half time right half Anthony Pereira gave Dempo the lead again going into half time. Five minutes after the restart, Ranti Martins continued his goal scoring form and put the game beyond doubt by scoring his 9th goal of the season.

Pune FC 1-3 Dempo
Man of the Match: Ranti Martins

 

23rd November:

DEMPO

V
SHILLONG LAJONG

The team from the north east were at the receiving end of another 5-0 rout from Dempo. The goal fest started in the 2nd minute after Anthony Pereira cut inside from the right and unleashed a curling shot with his left foot right into the side netting. Ten minutes later koko Sakibo bulldozed his way past three defenders and scored from an acute angle to make it 2-0 to Dempo. Dempo was in total control and just before the break they were 3-0 up through another goal from Anthony Pereira, this time from his head. After the break, Ranti Martins and Clifford Miranda got on the score sheet to give Dempo their second 5-0 win of the season.

Dempo 5-0 Shillong Lajong
Man of the Match: Anthony Pereira

 

4th December 2011:

DEMPO

V
CHURCHILL BROTHERS

Dempo were without seven of their first team players for this game and were forced to field two juniors in the team after their national team players left for SAFF Cup duty. It was always going to be a tough ask for Dempo after losing almost their entire defense and midfield. Churchill on the other hand were missing only three players and on paper looked the stronger side. Dempo fell short by 2-1 in this match but they produced a brave performance. Churchill lead 2-0 at half time, but Dempo produced a much better second half display and scored a consolation goal through defender Selwyn Fernandes.

East Bengal 2-1 Dempo

18th December 2011:

DEMPO

V
AIR INDIA

Dempo had a chance to bounce back from their double blows against Churchill and East Bengal against Air India who traveled from Bombay. Last year Dempo had annihilated the Airmen 14-0 in the corresponding fixture to notch up the biggest win in NFL/I-League history. The Fatorda faithful expected Dempo to notch up an easy win but Ranti Martins was guilty of missing some easy chances and was also unlucky to hit the post twice in the first half. The second half saw Dempo pressing hard for the lead but was denied by the woodwork and some good defending from the Airman. Air India stunned the home crowd by scoring in the 74th minute through Manadeep Singh. Collin Abranches made the result safe for the Airmen by scoring in the final three minutes to help the Airmen notch up a famous win.

Dempo 0-2 Air India

 

22nd December 2011:

DEMPO

V
SPORTING CLUBE DE GOA

Dempo needed to bounce back after their hat trick of losses and they were under severe pressure before the start of the match. Both teams started on a cautious note and the first half ended goalless. Soon after the break, Sporting took the lead through a superb bicycle kick from young Dawson Fernandes. Dempo were under severe pressure and needed to score two more goals to secure the win. Just at the hour mark though, Joy Ferrao came to Dempo’s rescue scoring his first goal for the club in the I-League. A shot from Godwin Franco took a deflection and landed at the feet of Joy who made no mistake. Five minutes later Koko Sakibo came on as a substitute and immediately made an impact in the 74th minute when he beat the offside trap to put Dempo in front. Ten minutes later Koko turned provider by feeding Ranti Martins and making the game safe for the home team. Sporting scored a late consolation goal which was a beauty from 40 yards out from Joyner Lourenco but that was not enough to deny Dempo the win.

Dempo 3-2 Sporting Clube de Goa
Man of the Match:

 

28th December 2011:

HAL

V
DEMPO

After the morale boosting win over Sporting that enabled Dempo to break a three match losing streak, Dempo traveled to Bangalore to play on the artificial turf at the Shree Kanteveera stadium in Bangalore against bottom placed HAL who were yet to taste victory in the League. After a barren first half, Ranti Martins broke the deadlock with a 56th minute goal which was a penalty. Ten minutes later Ranti doubled Dempo’s lead with a neat finish from close range. Climax Lawrence scored his first goal of the season for Dempo with a brilliant strike deep into injury time to seal a win and the three points for Dempo.

HAL 0-3 Dempo
Man of the Match: Ranti Martins

 

3rd January 2012:

HAL

V
PRAYAG UNITED

In the final game of the first phase, Dempo welcomed Prayag United who had lost only two games, the least among all I-League clubs this season. They had impressive players in their ranks like veteran Ghanaian Yusif Yakubu, Joshimar Da Silva Martins and ace midfielder Lalkamal Bhowmick. Prayag started the game well and took a shock lead in the fifth minute when Joshimar capitalized on a miscommunication between Dempo keeper and the defense and sneaked home to score the opening goal. Dempo were unusually ragged and off colour and couldn’t get into their free flowing game of football. It stayed that way at half time and Dempo had to pull of their socks to get something at half time. The home team started the second half in earnest and in the 60th minute Ranti Martins won a penalty that he coolly converted to bring Dempo on level terms. Just when it seemed that Dempo would get their noses in front, Prayag notched the winner in the 78th minute through Gouranga Biswas to break the hearts of the Dempo faithful.

 

Dempo 1-2 Prayag United

In the second phase Dempo have started with two wins on the trot and the whole of the Blue Army wishes them success as they aim to lift the I-League for the unprecedented fifth time.