Dempo Sports Club and A trophy-less season! Dempo Sports Club fans would reread this sentence 100 times and still won’t believe their eyes. The Goan giants with the highest number of I-League titles to their credit have fallen apart. The Blues after a long time have failed to win a single trophy this season.
Dempo Sports Club after winning I-League last season withdrew from the AFC cup to concentrate on the domestic competition. The club even had to go through a torrid time in the transfer window when they lost their prolific Nigerian striker Ranti Martins to the big spending Kolkata outfit Prayag United. The club pulled up an ambitious move when they signed Englishman Rohan Rickkets who had played for Arsenal FC in English Premier League. Dempo even signed Ghanaian International defender Stephen Offie who failed to impress the management and was released without playing a single game in the I-League. The club further strengthened its midfield by the signing of the Veteran Japanese midfielder Ryuji Seuoka from Salgaocar FC.
The club kicked off their season in the Federation Cup with only one foreign player. The club had to work hard in the group stage against likes of Pailan Arrows and Shillong Lajong but an impressive 4-0 victory over Mumbai FC took them to the semifinals. The club did not disappoint their fans in Semifinals against local rivals Salgaocar FC winning the match comfortably with the scoreline of 2-0. They were now up against the Kolkata Giants East Bengal in the finals. The Red and Gold played their heart out to win the cup with 3-2 win over the Golden Eagles.
After disappointing loss in the finals of the Federation Cup, the club had to focus on the league. The club was absolutely spot on in the first match of the league when they defeated local goal rivals Churchill Brothers 2-1. The club next demolished Sporting Clube de Goa 5-0 giving a stern message to all the title challengers that they meant business here. The club had an unbeaten streak until they were beaten by the minnows ONGC in Delhi. This loss did not hamper them as they continued their winning run in the next few matches. Till Round 10 they were sitting happily at the top of the table.
Round 11 could be considered as turning point for the Dempo Sports Club. The club after some brilliant performance in the past was expected to win against Pune FC at home. But things took a U-turn when Pune FC hammered them 5-1. This loss did not just hamper their title race but also dented players’ confidence. During the same period out of favour Englishmen Rohan Rickkets took out his frustration on social networking site on long serving Dempo coach Armando Colaco. Ricketts accused Armando of being biased too few players and not giving a fair opportunity to others.This controversy surrounding coach also hampered team harmony and the team was falling apart. The club released Rohan Rickket after this but the damage was already done.
Injuries to key personnel played their part – Samir Naik, Mahesh Gawli and Debabrata Roy were all long term absentees due to injuries at some point of the season and at one point Dempo had to play makeshift central defenders which meant that the team conceded a lot of goals. Failure to sign an able replacement for Ranti Martins proved to be a major factor that affected Dempo’s performance as the club had only one out and out striker in form of Koko Sakibo. The young Indian strikers failed to make a mark which compounded club’s miseries.
Rumors of Armando leaving surfaced towards the end of the season further denting the confidence of defending champions. The team looked demotivated and the players were happy to just let the games pass off. The club had winless streak until they won against now relegated United Sikkim FC. The club in the second half of the league was able to win just 2 games out of 13 and finished 5 which is their worst finish since the inception of the I-League.
Best Player- Ryuji Sueoka
Apart from being out of action for few matches the Japanese attacking midfielder Ryuji Sueoka was amazing for the Blues. The Japanese brought in much needed energy during the matches. He was the highest goal scorer for the club in the absence of a regular striker. The Japanese also helped them in creating chances for other players. His pace even at age of 33 was amazing and his penetrating kept rivals on their toes.
Most disappointing Player- Anthony Pareira.
The India International did not had the season the way he would have liked to have. The winger was anonymous on the field and failed to put any impact on the game. He was unable to replicate his last year performance when he was good at creating chances as well as scoring goals.
Creson Antao has shown a lot of maturity this season. The centre back after being under study to Mahesh Gawli for lot years has finally realized his ability. The defender was absolutely spot on against rival strikers. Rowilson Rodrigues after getting chance due to Mahesh Gawli injury was able to deliver impressive performances. The defender was amazing against physically stronger strikers.
Peter Carvalho has to be by far the best Indian player in the team for the club. The tall midfielder helped team at the heart of the midfield. The midfielder late goals helped team on many occasions to get some valuable points. Godwin Franco finally got enough opportunity to show his talent. The center midfielder grabbed this opportunity with both his hands. The midfielder was absolutely amazing and played his heart out for the club. Clifford Mirranda had an average season by his reputation but darting run from the winger helped them in creating lots of chances. The winger in meantime also scored 5 goals for the club.
Joaquim Abranches had limited opportunity this season but every time he was used he put his impact on the game. The striker was highest Indian goal scorer for the team with 6 goals to his name.
Most Memorable Matches
The Opening match of the I-League against Churchill Brothers has to be one of the more memorable games for the club. A 2-1 victory over the local rivals in the first home game meant that Dempo won the bragging rights of the Goan derby. Following the win, Dempo had an outstanding start to their campaign. Other memorable match of the season has to be a home fixture against Prayag United. After being a goal down, Dempo showed immense grit to secure a comeback 3-1 win.
Most Disappointing Match
5-1 loss against Pune FC has to be the most disappointing match for the club. This thrashing from the Red Lizard not only hampered their title hopes but also dampened the confidence of the players. This loss is one of the biggest losses for Dempo in a very long time.
Most Memorable Goal.
Joaquim Abranches’ magical free kick against Pune FC at home has to be the best goal of the season for the club. The 35 yard powerful strike from the striker was absolutely amazing and was a testament to Abranches’ talent.