It was a tale of two halves for five time I-League champions Dempo Sports Club as the club bounced back from the eleventh spot at the end of round 16 to finish at a creditable fourth spot in Arthur Papas’ first season in-charge at the club.
Dempo parted ways with long time coach Armando Colaco after a disappointing fifth spot in the I-League season and appointed Arthur Papas as the coach after the latter had impressed with Pailan Arrows. The Dempo-Papas combination was covered with much fanfare by the media and there was a lot of expectation as one on the most sought after coach joined the most successful I-League club. A number of senior players were released and Papas roped in former Australasian international Simon Colosimo and Billy Mehmet for the team.
The I-League campaign however began on a disastrous note as the Goan giants went down to Shillong Lajong 3-0 in the first game of the season despite playing the match at their home. The team appeared unsettled and had to wait until the fifth round to register their first win of the season – a 3-1 win over East Bengal at Kolkata. The team however went down 3-1 to Bengaluru FC in the very next round as rumors of a rift between coach and seniors players began to surface. The team went though a torrid time till the winter break and found themselves in the relegation zone. They scored just 13 goals in 15 matches, which made them among the least scoring teams of the first half. Dempo also had troubles at the back and the team conceded 17 goals in the 15 matches.
Among the reasons for this sluggish was the poor performance of the foreign players except Beto. Much was expected from Irish striker Billy Mehmet but he managed to score just one goal in eight matches . The duo of Shinnosuke Honda and Simon Colosimo looked uncomfortable at the back and the club leaked in easy goals. The absence of Arthur Papas from some matches due to personal reasons didn’t help the team’s cause either and they appeared unsettled and disjointed specially due to the fact that a lot of Pailan Arrows players joined the team in the middle of the season.
Following a poor first half Dempo released Billy Mehmet and Shinnosuke Honda and roped in Tolgay Ozbey and Zohib Islam Amiri. The duo had a considerable experience of playing in the I-League and played a key role in stabilizing the team. and post the winter break Dempo looked a completely different side. The team reached the semi-finals of the Federation Cup losing out to Sporting Clube de Goa in the semifinal after the game went into the extra time. In I-League the club won six of the remaining nine I-League fixtures to finish a creditable fourth in the table which included 4-0 and 4-1 wins over local rivals Sporting Clube and Churchill Brothers respectively. Ozbey played a key role in their revival scoring eight goals in as many matches while the likes of Pronay Halder, Narayan Das, Romeo Fernandes and Alwyn George raised their performances at the crucial moments. In the local league Dempo finished third behind Sporting and Churchill Brothers.
Best Player – Narayan Das
Left back Narayan Das has been a revelation ever since he joined Arthur Papas at Dempo after initial few rounds. The former Arrows player had a stellar season with the Goan giants and was rewarded with a national team debut on back of some consistent and impressive performances. Das, who became the first player from Jharkhand to represent India, featured in almost all the matches after he joined Dempo and contributed well in attack besides providing solidity at the back. The youngster has a bright future ahead of him and could become a regular in the national team.
Most Disappointing Player – Subhasish Roy Chowdhury
Dempo goalkeeper Subhasish Roy Chowdhury started as the first choice goalkeeper under Arthur Papas but a string of unimpressive performances where he was guilty of making some childish error saw him lose his spot to Laxmikant Kattimani. For most of the second half of the season, Subhasish was restricted to the bench and it comes as no surprise that he is believed to be on his way out of the club.
With Dempo’ s defense struggling, club stalwart Debabrata Roy was coach Arthur Papas’ s go to man and he played a crucial role throughout the campaign featuring in 22 of the 24 matches. The 27 year old played as a central defender, as a right back and as a left back as the situation demanded. Zohib Islam Amiri made an instant impact at Dempo after he joined them from Mumbai FC and the Afghan skipper provided much needed stability at the back in addition to scoring four goals which included a brace against Pune FC in the final match.
Clifford Miranda has been with Dempo since 2000 when he graduated from the Tata Football Academy and the 31 year old club legend had a stellar season featuring even in the central midfield in the absence of other midfielders . Miranda featured in 23 matches and scored four goals. Despite missing a part of the season, Beto scored 7 goals in the I-League and created a numerous opportunities for his strikers. When on song, the Brazilian was a treat to watch and showed why he is one of the best midfielders in the country at the moment.
Tolgay Ozbey endured a torrid period at Mohun Bagan last season and at Mohammaden Sporting this season where he played as a second striker. The Australian returned back to form at Dempo where he was the leading striker and the pinnacle of his performance came when he scored all four goals in his club’ s 4-1 win over Churchill Brothers.
Most Memorable Match
Dempo 4-1 Churchill Brothers
Tolgay Ozbey created havoc as Dempo routed fellow Goan rivals Churchill Brothers 4-1 in a round 23 clash to move up to third spot in the I-League. The Aussie opened the scoring in the eight minute taking advantage of a defensive error by Churchill defender Sanjay Balmuchu and then doubled his side’s lead in the the 30th minute with Alwyn George grabbing the assist. Ozbey completed his hat-trick on the stroke of the halftime when he headed in a Romeo Fernandes cross. Shabana pulled one back for the Red Machines but Ozbey put the result beyond doubt scoring his fourth in the 88th minute.
Most Disappointing Match
Dempo 0-3 Shillong Lajong
Dempo’ s new season under Arthur Papas began on a rather sour note as Dempo were handed a 3-0 loss by a visiting Shillong Lajong side at the Duler stadium. The center back pairing of Honda and Coloismo were easily beaten by Cornell Glen and Uilliams Silva up front throughout the match while Billy Mehmet was unable to convert the chances that came his way.
Goal Of The Season
Beto vs Mumbai FC
Beto’ s goal from the free kick against Mumbai in a round 24 clash gets our nod as the goal of the season. With both sides failing to take the lead, Sandesh Jhingan brought down Jewel Raja on the edge of the box on the stroke of the halftime. Beto showed his class as he curled in a unstoppable free-kick that crashed into the back of the net.
2013/14 was a year of transition for the Golden Eagles and despite a slow start to the season, the club finished at the second season. The highlight of the season however was Arthur Papas’ s focus on giving playing to several promising youngsters in the team. Besides roping in several Pailan Arrow players, the club also signed the highly rated Sahil Tavora from the SESA academy in the middle of the season. In addition the likes of Romeo Fernandes, Myron Fernandes, Mandar Rao Desai and Aniston Fernandes, who have been with the club for some time now, are also central to Dempo’ s focus on youngsters. The youngsters in the team gave a good account of themselves and are likely to form the backbone of the side for times to come which augurs well for the club. If Dempo improves on its mistakes it made with the signing of foreign players, Dempo will be a serious contender for the I-League next season.