Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Goa
4th May, 2011 – 4:00 PM IST

After the humiliating 9-0 loss to FC Nasaf in Uzbekistan in their previous game Dempo will look to restore lost pride when they take on Yemen side Al Tilal in their penultimate game of the 2011 AFC Cup group stage. Dempo were totally outclassed in their game at the Karshi Stadium suffering the heaviest defeat in an AFC clash and Armando Colaco who was missing in that game has ordered his team to atone for their mistake. Dempo have the perfect opportunity at redemption as they play this game in their home stadium in Goa and will be cheered on lustily by their home fans. The match was originally scheduled to be played in Yemen but was shifted to Goa at the last minute due to the civil unrest in the Gulf country. That sudden, out of the blue change in venue has breathed new life in Dempo’s stuttering campaign in Asia’s second tier club competition.

Today’s match day is crucial in the context of this group. This is how the group stands. Al Ansar are on six points and take on already qualified Nasaf at the Sports City Stadium in Beirut. If Al Ansar don’t win this game then Dempo can sneak home if they win their remaining two games- against Al Tilal at Goa and Al Ansar at Balewadi on the 11th of May- something unthinkable specially after the loss to Nasaf. That makes it imperative for Dempo to come out trumps in today’s clash. At the press conference Armando Colaco stressed on the need for Dempo to put up a strong show in front of their home fans. “The loss in Uzbekistan will rankle for some time but a win against Al Tilal will help to put that defeat behind us now,” said Colaco.  “We must regroup because we are still in the competition.”  “Nasaf have already qualified from this group and to my eyes they are the best team in the competition, But any of the other three teams can qualify. I would like to believe this will be Dempo.” Added the coach

Dempo will once again look to their talisman for inspiration

Team news and Tactical brief

Dempo SC:

Dempo suffered against Nasaf partly due to goalkeeping injuries. Their first choice goalkeeper Laxmikant Kattimani was out of the clash due to an abdominal injury. Subashish Roy Chowdhury who was his natural replacement was vomiting from the time he landed in Uzbekistan for the clash but Dempo had no option but to name him on the bench and start with their third choice keeper Luis Barreto. 12 minutes into the game what Dempo assistant coach Mauricio Afonso feared worst happened. Luis Barreto injured himself while diving to make a save and had to be stretchered off. Dempo were then forced to bring on Subashish who could barely stand. Barely two minutes after the substitution Nasaf scored their first goal and added 4 more before half time. The Uzbek side then pumped in 4 in the second half to complete the rout. To add to Dempo’s woes their talisman, Beto, didn’t make the trip due to flu and their Iranian defender Rouhollah Semieinia was out due to suspension. Domnic Noronha and Debabrata Roy also missed that game and the entire balance of the team suffered.

Nasaf players celebrating a goal against Dempo

However today offers a chance of atoning for that game. “Beto and Siavash’s return will give us more strength. I am sure we can get the result we are looking for,” said Colaco. Beto will partner Ranti up front. The goalkeepers are fit again and Armando will most probably start with young Laxmikant Kattimani. The defence will have Mahesh Gawli and Rouhollah Semeinia at the centre while Valeriano Rebello will man the right and Debabrata Roy or Samir Naik will marshal the left. The midfield will be patrolled by Ogba Kalu, Climax Lawrence, Peter Carvalho and Clifford Miranda. Dempo defeated Al Tilal in their official home game at Balewadi with goals from Ranti Martins and a diving header by Beto after a sensational cross by Samir Naik. They will once again look to produce a repeat performance in front of the Fatorda faithful.

Ogba Kalu in action against Nasaf

Al Tilal:

Al Tilal too are not out of the competition. They have the same points as Dempo and a win in their final two games will also see them through to the next round if Al Ansar don’t win at least one of their final two games. However Al Tilal have the toughest last game- against Nasaf at Uzbekistan- and qualification looks extremely difficult for them. However their coach Seyoum Kebede appeared confident of his team’s good show. If we had played all our home matches in Yemen, we would have had a much better chance of qualification. It’s a huge disadvantage to play away from home,” said Al Tilal coach Seyoum Kebede referring to their home game against Al Ansar which was played in Jordan and the present match which will be played in Goa.

The coach has a point as they gave mighty Nasaf a scare in their only “home” game in Aden and narrowly lost 2-3. The civil unrest in Yemen has no doubt robbed them of a chance of putting up a much better showing. “We are here with a full-strength side and believe our chances in the competition are very much alive. We have done well for ourselves in the last game when we got a result in Lebanon. We hope to do the same here. I have a very good side. We lost some of our matches due to unavailability of three key players. That will not happen here because we have everyone available.” he added.

Ethiopian Tafese Tesfaye Sege who scored against Dempo at Balewadi will once again shoulder the burden of scoring for the away side. Ruffin Motshumba is another great talent and has already scored two goals in the competition. Al Tilal will be high on confidence after defeating Nasaf 2-0 in their previous game in Lebanon.

One thing’s for sure though. A good performance by Dempo in Goa will definitely heal the wounds of Uzbekistan. They have the comfort of playing at home in front of their roaring fans and will look to turn the tide and give a kiss of life to their AFC campaign. With East Bengal already out of the competition, Dempo is India’s only hope in the continental cup. The Blue Army are no strangers to adversity and in times like these Armando has managed to motivate his team and bring out the best in them. When the going gets tough, the tough get going. Or should I say Cometh The Hour, Cometh Dempo’s Men.

TheHardTackle’s Players To Watch Out FOR:

Beto (Dempo),
Ruffin Motshumba (Al Tilal)

TheHardTackle’s  Prediction:

Dempo 3-1 Al Tilal