Defending champions Dempo SC will be hoping to lift up the I-league crown for an unprecedented fourth time (since its inception in 2007) when they step onto the field this season under the watchful eye of their manager Armando Colaco (Dempo has won 5 league titles; I-league + NFL). The Goan giants are on the verge on finalizing their squad for the Federation Cup and the I-league with only two spots left up for grabs which will be filled in by the foreigners. Dempo is expected to face stiff competition this season not only from the likes of East Bengal, Mohun Bagan, Churchill Brothers and Salgaocar SC but also from Prayag United who have invested heavily in foreigners during this year’s transfer season. It will be extremely difficult for the champions to retain their crown but if they indeed manage to pull it off, then Dempo SC would become the first club ever to defend their I-league crown.
Here TheHardTackle presents an in-depth analysis on how the club would be shaping up for the upcoming football season.
Transfers for the season 2012-13
Goalkeepers: Subhasish Roy Chowdhury, Laxmikant Kattimani, Tyson Caiado, Luis Barreto, Reagan Juliao and C.K Ubaid.
Subhasish Roy Chowdhury had a peach of a season in 2011-12 and conceded only 21 goals as Dempo went on to finish with the second best defensive record in the league which also included eleven clean sheets to his name. His impressive performances between the sticks for Dempo not only helped him regain the No.1 keeper spot from Kattimani, but also earned him a recall into the national squad. Subhasish has shown truckloads of improvement from 2010-11 season and formed a formidable partnership with his backline. The club looks set, as far the shot stoppers are concerned and one feels that Dempo’s opponents will have a tough time in getting past their keepers for a second year running.
Verdict: With the presence of Subhasish, Dempo can boast of having a top class shot stopper in the ranks and the duo of Kattimani and Caiado provide them with some extremely strong back up options. While youngsters like Barreto, Julio and the fresh recruit Ubaid C.K. from Josco FC Kerala, will most probably only get to feature for the club in the local league tournaments such as the Goa Professional league and the GFA Knockout Cup, the arrival of this young brigade of keepers offers a lot of hope for the bright future of the club.
Defenders: Debabrata Roy, Selwyn Fernandes, Cresson Antao, Marcus Peixoto, Samir Naik, Valeriano Rebelo, Rowilson Rodrigues, Covan Lawrence, Mahesh Gawli, Jessel Carneiro, Shallum Pires, Bharat Thapa, Vincy Fernandes, Jeovito Fernandes
Dempo outclassed their opponents in almost every section of play last season which saw them ending their season with a goal difference of plus thirty two. The lethal partnership between former India international Mahesh Gawli and the youngster Cresson Antao at the back was the talking point of the season as they kept the frontline of almost every team at bay without losing any sleep over it. The side from Goa would be hoping to carry forward the same form into the next season as well.
Dempo possess a good mix of both youth and experience in the backline and with players like Samir Naik and Mahesh Gawli at the twilight of their career, the club management would be hoping for more of their youngsters to have a breakthrough year like Cresson Antao had, last season. Dempo Junior’s products Bharat Thapa, Vincy Fernandes and Jeovito Fernandes have been included in the provisional squad of the club but they will be used only in the Goa league beginning on the 26th of August.
Reports coming in from Goa suggest that the club is on the lookout for an international defender and currently, twenty six year old Ghanaian full back, Stephen Offei, is undergoing trails with the I-league champions. The arrival of the Ghanaian who stands at 6 feet 2 inches will provide a physical edge to Dempo at the back and will add a lot of teeth to an already formidable defensive line.
Verdict: After going through a torrid time couple of years ago; both the players and the coaching staff of Dempo have worked tirelessly throughout the last season to improve their squad defensively. In the end, it was due to the splendid display by their backline that Dempo SC lifted the I-league trophy at the end of the season. Even this time around, the core of their defensive team is formed by the same set of guys and performance wise this squad has improved with every passing game. One only expects them to go on improving from strength to strength even in the upcoming season.
Midfielders: Peter Carvalho,Godwin Franco, Climax Lawrence, Anthony Pereira, Clifford Miranda, Romeo Fernandes, Nicolau Borges, Aniston Fernandes, Nickson Castanha , Joe Rodrigues, Basileo Rego, Aaron Fernandes, Seriton Fernandes, Mandar,Rao Dessai, Micky Vaz
Even without the presence of a single foreigner, Dempo SC’s midfield can be rated amongst one of the finest in the I-league. Climax Lawrence, Anthony Pereira, Clifford Miranda and Peter Carvalho provide ample amount of experience in the middle of the pitch but their age is a major concern for the management. All of these players are over thirty and it would be a really tough task for them perform at the top of their levels for the entire season, which means that the young guns of Dempo will have to step up to the challenge sooner or later in the season.
Dempo has able replacements in Romeo Fernandes, Nicolau Borges, Joe Rodrigues and Godwin Franco who have successfully stepped into the shoes of their seniors on a number of occasions in the past. The club and its fans are banking heavily on their youngsters especially on Romeo, who was recently a part of India U-22 side which participated in 2013 AFC U-22 Asia Cup qualification and have pinned a lot of hope on him.
The departure of both Beto and Kalu had considerably weakened their midfield last season but that did not deter Dempo SC one bit. This season Mickey Fernandes has left for Air India and Brian Mascarenhas has gone to their arch rivals Salgaocar, but the arrivals of Castanha and Rego have made up for these losses.
Verdict: Technically the squad has pretty much remained the same from last season. We predict them to sign at least one foreign midfielder before the season begins. Matching the performace of the last season can prove to be really difficult for their ageing midfield but one won’t be surprised if the defending champions actually manage to dig in deep and come up with yet another superlative seasonal performance.
Strikers: Koko Sakibo, Joaquim Abranches, Ryuji Sueoka , Joy Ferrao, Cliffton Gonsalves, Myron Fernnades
Dempo SC’s strike force has received a major jolt with the departure of last season’s top scorer Ranti Martins to Prayag United. Dempo has managed to sign Japanese attacking midfielder Ryuji Sueoka from Salgaocar but it will be extremely difficult for Dempo’s management to fill up the gap left by Martins’s departure at the top.
Koko Sakibo is the only foreigner who has stayed with the defending champions for the upcoming season and the Nigerian forward will have to improve his game considerably along with Abranches, in order to provide any threat to their opponents.
Verdict: Dempo look really weak in the front and one is still not sure whether they possess enough firepower to rattle the defense of their rivals who are investing heavily in this year’s transfer window.
1. I-league : The defending champions will certainly walk in as one of the favorites for the title but without their goal scoring machine- Ranti Martins leading their attack one sees a tough season ahead for the Goans. With a star studded but ageing midfield some serious and valid questions have been raised over whether their midfield has enough gas in its tank this time around or not? Churchill was breathing down their neck for the bulk of the season along with East Bengal and this time with some big signings, they can cause some serious damage to Dempo’s I-league campaign.
2. Federation Cup: Dempo SC could not reach beyond the group stages of this competition last time around. How far they will go this year depends chiefly on whether they will field a full strength team or their junior team. Also with a place in AFC Cup already secured one feels they might try their young guard in this year’s Fed Cup.
3. AFC Cup: The Goans missed out on the AFC Cup last year but this time around they will get to feature in it after winning the I-league of 2011-12. They reached the knockout rounds last time they were in it but going beyond the group stage looks highly unlikely for them this time around unless they sign some major foreigners before the transfer window closes.
4. Goal Professional League: Like always, the defending champions are expected to field in their members from their youth sector in the Goan league. They are expected to face some stiff competition in GPL as well but THT predicts Dempo SC to retain this trophy.
Dempo SC has certainly got their task cut out with the departure of Ranti Martins; the job of holding the front has been laid squarely on the shoulders of veteran and young Indian players in the team. Dempo has been the club to beat for quite some time in the league. Departure of three out of their four foreigners from the squad of last season has left a major hole in the squad and only time will tell whether or not these young lads will be able to gel with the veterans in their squad and justify the faith Dempo’s management has shown in them. But they did lose three foreigners last season as well and we all know who ended up with the title now don’t we?