Match Preview: Air India – Dempo SC

Feb 9: For the past few seasons Air India versus Dempo matches have become a nightmare for even the best of punters who seek a favourable outcome based on team strength. Such is the un-predictability of Dempo-Air India games that you would have to wait until the final whistle to believe the score.

The love and hate affair began two seasons back when Air India surprised one and all in Pune with a 4-0 thrashing of Dempo side which comprised of the likes of Beto, Ranti and others. This was followed by retaliation from the champions when they butchered the Air men 14-0 at Goa thus registering their biggest win in I-League. Last season too, Air India first got better of Dempo 2-0 thanks to a double strike by the then youth sensation Manandeep Singh, but later got hammered 3-1 at Goa.

This I-League season, Air India could have at least snatched a point from their away game in Goa if not Joaquim Abranches had scored the winner in the 90th minute of the match. With the sword of relegation hanging high over their heads, the pilots would like to win Sunday’s game before heading into the break.

Meanwhile Dempo SC has its own share of miseries as key players have been ruled out of Sundays match due to injuries. Defenders Mahesh Gawli and Samir Naik will be absent from the action while Debabrata Roy will also be unavailable after being injured in the game against ONGC. Prathamesh Maulingkar may get the nod in the starting eleven along with Cresson Antao while Peter Carvalho and Climax Lawrence will hold the midfield. Abranches is expected to play a role of attacking winger along with strikers Ryuji Seuoka and Jhonny Menyongar.

After a dull start to the New Year, Armando’s’ boys are getting better with each passing game. After winning 7-0 against a hapless United Sikkim, they drew against Mumbai FC in their last match after being two goals down. However, injuries to main players have been a major setback this season to the 5 times I-League winners.

It will be a keen contest on cards as Dempo SC will look to close their gap with table toppers East Bengal. Armando Colaco’s side is third on 35 points from 18 matches while East Bengal is perched on top with 39 points from 19 matches. Churchill Bros., who are second in the table with 38 points, will have a task to cut out as they try and manage to handle their AFC Cup commitments along with the I-League season.

This match will be shown live on TEN Action Plus on 10th Feb from 7:00 pm onwards.

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