Feb 01: As Coach Armando Colaco put his boys to a serious early morning workout on the eve of the match against Mumbai Football Club, you could gauge by the intensity of the session how crucial a match it is going to be. Dempo, five points behind Churchill who have played a game less, would want nothing less than three points in this tie- their penultimate before the I-League goes into a 40 day break.
“We would like nothing less than three points. Every match is a must win from now on”, thundered Armando as he watched over the stretching session of the players after the end of practice. The defending champions have had a stop start campaign this season with some brilliant games sandwiched in between some not so good ones but the major factor for this in-consistent form has been the crippling injuries to key members of their squad. For more than a month now, their highest scorer Ryuji Sueoka has been sidelined due to an ankle injury, although the Japanese is expected to be fit for the game on Saturday. Clifford Miranda, after straining his hamstring in the match against United Sikkim is also expected to return to the starting line-up. The biggest boost to the Dempo midfield though would be the return to form and fitness of their midfield strong man Peter Carvalho. The 29 year old, who has been one of Dempo’s most consistent performers this season made a goal scoring return as a substitute against ONGC and will in all probability start alongside Climax Lawrence in the Dempo midfield against Mumbai FC.
The defense though could be missing two crucial members. Debabrata Roy, who has started all Dempo matches this season barring one where he was suspended, will be out of the match due to a badly injured left ankle after being on the receiving end of a vicious tackle from ONGC midfielder Bimal Mainz. His place at left back will be taken by Selwyn Fernandes. VeteranIndiaplayer Samir Naik is also an absentee after suffering a calf muscle injury and will be replaced by Valeriano Rebello. Rowilson Rodrigues and Cresson Antao will continue their partnership and centre back in the absence of the injured Mahesh Gawli.
Mumbai FC on the other hand have no such injury worries and will look to put up a strong performance against the defending champions. The Essel backed side are in a decent run of form, losing just one of their previous five games although three of those matches have been drawn. Khalid Jamil’s side are known to play a tough and physical game and have been one of the teams with the highest number of yellow cards. They will again rely on the wily Yusif Yakubu to get them the goals. Their Afghani captain Haroon Amiri has been their standout performer in defense and his battle with the Dempo strikers could be crucial to which way the tie swings on Saturday.
The match will kick-off at 3:45 p.m at the Duler Stadium.
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