They were robbed of key players thanks to a maniacal decision by the AIFF to keep the Indian flock together for six months; they battled an injury crisis, overcame threats of quitting from their best player and a bruising last week where they had to play four games in six days, but they battled hard, braved all the odds and fought till the second last game of the season – that’s the story of Dempo Sports Club this season. Another season, another creditable performance, another season where they looked like snatching the championship but fell narrowly short and in between all this they kept, as always, India’s flag flying high in Asia.
Make no mistake, this has been a great year for Dempo Sports Club. Had they had all their players with them from the beginning, many believe that the title would have been clinched much before the final few games of the season. Dempo lost almost their entire midfield for six months to Team India – Climax, Clifford, Anthony were all missing. Add to those, two defenders – Samir and Mahesh – were also in the Indian team. But Armando Colaco’s decision of blooding in youngsters paid rich dividends and kept Dempo in the title race for long spells, falling just short of the post. So here’s a monthly review of Dempo’s season this year.
The season’s first tournament – the Federation Cup – kicked off in Ludhiana. Dempo were placed in Group C along with ONGC, JCT and Indian Arrows. Dempo topped the group winning two games and drawing one but lost to Mohun Bagan in the semi finals, 5-4 on penalties. It was a game they should have won outrightly with Ranti Martins guilty of missing some sitters.
Dempo 5-2 ONGC
Dempo 2-0 Indian Arrows
Dempo 0-0 JCT
Semi Finals: Dempo 4-5 Mohun Bagan
The season kicked off on the 30th of November 2010 with Dempo taking on The Red-and-Golds in the Super Cup at the Tau Devi Lal Stadium in Gurgaon. Stung by a Penn Orji goal in the 23rd minute, Dempo rallied hard to pump in three goals through the boots of Nigerian sharpshooter Ranti Martins, who would eventually go on to score over 35 goals in the season including 30 in the league. Dempo won 3-1 on the night but it was the performance of young Clifton Gonsalves, son of legendary Camilo Gonsalves, that set tongues wagging. Young Clifton was brilliant in that game with two assists.
Dempo 3-1 East Bengal
Dempo first clashed with local rivals Churchill Brothers in the inaugural game of the I-League in Goa. Once again Clifton Gonsalves had a blinder of a game, putting Dempo ahead with a cool finish in the 58th minute. But two minutes before the final whistle Odafa Okolie equalized to share the honours on the opening day.
After 4 days, came mighty East Bengal, who on paper looked a far superior side. Dempo were battling a crisis in midfield. Three players- Climax, Clifford and Anthony – were with the Indian team and their most influential player Beto decided to quit the team due to differences with some players and the management. Dempo took to the field in a depleted condition but played bravely. They were unlucky to lose by a goal after a goalkeeping error by Laxmikamnt Kattimani allowed Tolgay to score with the simplest of tap ins. Dempo played their third game on the trot in Goa entertaining JCT Mills. Luckily for them, Beto decided to pledge his support to the club till the end of the season. And what an impact he made. He won a penalty and scored off the rebound, after Ranti’s initial shot was saved by the goalie. He created another for Ranti to head home, helping Dempo to a 2-0 win and rightly winning the Man of the Match award. Dempo then drew 2-2 with Mohun Bagan at Kolkata, defeated Mumbai FC 1-0 at Goa and drew 1-1 with Chirag at Goa in a game where, in spite of Ranti missing a penalty, they should have won by at least three goals.
Dempo 1-1 Churchil
Dempo 0-1 East Bengal
Dempo 2-0 JCT
Mohun Bagan 2-2 Dempo
Dempo 1-0 Mumbai FC
Dempo 1-1 Chirag
The new year started with a bang for Dempo with fit again Joaquim Abranches helping his team to a 2-0 win over ONGC in Goa. But once again it was Beto who delivered a stellar performance and was adjudged the Man of the Match. Then came a shock result as Indian Arrows held them to a 1-1 draw, with Ranti Martins missed his second penalty of the season. Dempo then came back from the dead to beat Pune FC 2-1 with two goals in the last ten minutes. This game saw a heated argument between the referee and a Pune FC official who barged from the VIP area and accosted the referee.
Dempo then came crashing down to Earth, as they lost 1-3 to Salgaocar in the local derby, before suffering their worst loss in recent memory – a 0-4 rout at the hands of Air India, who at that time were still winless in the league. That loss meant that Dempo had dropped massive 17 points in the first eleven games and were already 13 points adrift of the top. Dempo probably lost the title in these eleven rounds but the way they rose from the dead to nearly snatch the title was testament to their self belief and never say die spirit. Dempo finished January with a 3-0 win against HAL in Bangalore; that in some way healed the wounds of the disaster against Air India.
Dempo 2-0 ONGC
Indian Arrows 1-1 Dempo
Dempo 2-1 Pune FC
Dempo 1-3 Salgaocar
Air India 4-0 Dempo
HAL 0-3 Dempo
At the half way mark of the season, Dempo defeated Viva Kerala 2-0 at Kannur with goals from Ranti and Beto and then went on to blank Churchill 2-0 at Fatorda with Joaquim Abranches scoring a peach of a goal. Ranti scored the other in front of a packed crowd. This was the perfect boost the team needed going into their AFC Champions League qualifying game against Al Sadd of Qatar. Their AFC Cup campaign meant that Dempo played their next game in the I-League in late February. They beat JCT 2-1 with goals from Ranti Martins. By this time, they had got all their players except Anthony Pereira back and were beginning to find some form. Dempo were on a decent run having won four game on the trot. They had moved to fifth in the table, only 9 points behind East Bengal.
Viva Kerala 0-2 Dempo
Dempo 2-0 Churchill
JCT 1-2 Dempo
By March, Dempo were beginning to slowly but surely push up the ladder. They won their fifth game in a row, beating ONGC 1-0 at Kolhapur. Then came one of the most brilliant performances Dempo ever put in. In front of a packed crowd with Kushal Das and Sunando Dhar also in the stands, Dempo pumped in four goals in a first half blitzkrieg, annihilating Bhowmick’s Bagan and prompting Kushal Das to say that Dempo play the most attractive brand of football in India a la Barcelona. It was eventually this performance that prompted Kushal Das to appoint Armando Colaco as interim coach of the National Team. Beto, Clifford and Ranti tore through the heart of the Bagan defence. Dempo were well and truly on their way to making a challenge for the title with their sixth win on the trot. Their AFC Cup commitments meant that Dempo played only two I-League games in March.
ONGC 0-1 Dempo
Dempo 4-1 Mohun Bagan
April started off with a thrilling 4-2 win over Chirag. By this time Dempo were on an amazing run of seven straight wins and were now just six points from the top, thanks to an indifferent form of East Bengal and Salgaocar. But then came a game which probably cost them the title in the end. After leading Viva Kerala 3-0 inside the first twenty minutes, Dempo allowed them to crawl back to 3-3, thanks to some goalkeeping blunders from Subhashish Roy Chowdhury. The team restored parity with a 5-2 drubbing of Indian Arrows in the following game, and then scored a stunning and much needed 3-1 win over Salgaocar to blow the title race wide open yet again. That win moved them to within just two points of leaders Salgaocar and it gave them renewed hope of defending their title.
Chirag 4-2 Dempo
Dempo 3-3 Viva Kerala
Dempo 5-2 Indian Arrows
Salgaocar 1-3 Dempo
This was the defining month of the season but also the most tiring one. Dempo were still in 4th place but a win in each of their final five games would see them clinch the title. Their AFC Cup schedule meant that they played a grueling 5 games in the space of 15 days in the League and three more in the AFC Cup. Dempo first played East Bengal in a titanic battle at the Salt Lake on 15th May. Dempo took the lead early in the 8th minute when Ranti Martins slotted home. Things were looking ominous for the defending champions until Tolgay Ozbay pumped in two goals to seal their fate. Dempo lost 3-1 and with it probably their chance to retain the title. They then traveled to Kolhapur and beat Mumbai FC 1-0.
Then came the turning point of the season. Dempo’s qualification for the AFC Cup pre quarters meant that they had to play three games in five days, after making a grueling 2 day trip to play Duhok of Iraq. After narrowly losing 0-1 to Duhok, the players arrived in Pune jaded and exhausted, but fought from two goals down to level the game at 2-2. They then struck the post three times and induced saves from keeper Balaji that he will probably never make again in his life, until a cruel late strike form Izumi Arata drove the final nail in their coffin. Dempo succumbed to a 3-2 defeat and with it their slim hopes of winning the title faded. The game of the season followed, with Dempo crushing Air India 14-0 – highest ever score in the I-League. Ranti scored six goals in that game. Dempo ended their campaign in third place after losing to HAL on the final day of the season.
East Bengal 3-1 Dempo
Mumbai 0-1 Dempo
Pune 3-2 Dempo
Dempo 14-0 Air India
Dempo 2-4 HAL
Top Scorer : Ranti Martins (30 goals)
Dempo kicked off their campaign in Asia, looking to be the first team from India to qualify for the prestigious Champions League. They played Al Sadd of Qatar away, a team that had three World Cup-ers in their squad. Dempo played well but narrowly lost 2-0 to Al Sadd. That loss meant that they were relegated to play in the AFC Cup. They were arguably placed in the toughest group of the AFC Cup; however, Dempo did tremendously well to go through from the group with a final match day win over Al Ansar of Lebanon. Dempo were made to play their home games in Pune due to the non availability of floodlights in Goa, but they made Pune their home, producing fine performances to go through to the knockout stage for the third time in their history. Dempo defeated Al Tilal of Yemen in their first game but then suffered massive losses on the trot, including a 9-0 thrashing against Nasaf in Uzbekistan. Refusing to go down without a fight, they clawed their way back into the group by first holding Al Tilal to a 2-2 draw in Goa – a game that was played there due to the civil unrest in Yemen – and then beating Al Ansar 2-1 in Pune after playing almost the entire second half with ten men. Dempo played their pre quarterfinal game away against Duhok of Iraq, where they narrowly lost 1-0. It was a creditable performance in the Asia’s second tier club Championship.
Champions League qualifying
Al Sadd 2-0 Dempo
Results in AFC Cup
Dempo 2-1 Al Tilal
Al ANsar 2-0 Dempo
Dempo 0-4 nasaf
Nasaf 9-0 Dempo
Al Yilal 2-2 Dempo
Dempo 2-1 Al Ansar
Pre Quaterfinal: Duhok 1-0 Dempo
Top Scorer : Ranti Martins and Beto (3 goals)
Dempo clinched the Goa league, pipping Sporting Clube de Goa to the post by a single point on the final day of the season. Dempo suffered a lone loss agaist Churchill Brothers in the 8 team league. Cliffton Gonsalves was the club’s top scorer in the League, and Dempo finished their campaign with 26 points.
Top Scorer : Cliffton Gonsalves (4 goals)
Best Player: Beto
Without a shadow of a doubt, the Brazilian magician was Dempo’s standout performer of the season with 16 goals, including three in the AFC Cup. He had countless assists to his credit, in additon to numerous Man of the Match awards. Dempo will definitely miss the Brazilian samba next season.
Best Striker: Ranti Martins
Martins was the top scorer in the League with 30 goals. He was in marauding form throughout the campaign, and scored three vital goals in the AFC Cup as well.
Best Midfielder: Climax Lawrence
Climax came into his own after joining the team late due to national commitments. He played a stellar role at the heart of the Dempo midfield, helping them go on that amazing run of seven straight games.
Best Defender: Mahesh Gawli
Dempo dearly missed him at the start of the campaign. Bob Houghton committed a mistake by making him warm the bech in Qatar, as he is by far one of India’s best defenders.
Best Game: Dempo 14-0 Air India
No prizes for guessing the winner of this category. This was a magical performance from Dempo, and they could have scored even more.
Worst Game: Air India 0-4 Dempo
In hindsight, this performance gave the Goan club motivation for the 14-0 demolition at Fatorda. Armando Colaco definitely had revenge on his mind for this humiliation. But having said that, the way Dempo’s defenders capitulated on that day was pathetic.
Best Goal: Joaquim Abranches v Churchill
After receiving a brilliant ball from Clifford, Abranches cut in and unleashed a stunning shot right into the top corner that gave Lalit Thapa absolutely no chance.
ROLL OF HONOUR 2010-2011
Super Cup- Winners
Federation Cup- Semi-finalists
I-League- Third place
AFC Cup- Round of 16
Goa League- Winners
GFA U-20 League- Winners
GFA U-18 League- Winners
GFA U-16 League- Quarter-finals