PANJIM: The Goa Professional League has gone down to the wire as title contenders Dempo Sports Club and favourites Goan FC are both tied on points and will play their final league match at Duler Stadium, Mapusa, today.
Currently, Goan FC are sitting at the top of the table with 51 points from 21 games while the Golden Eagles are also on par with them with only an inferior head to head record (lost 2-4 against the FC Goa Developmental side) pushing them in the second spot.
The five-time national champions Dempo Sports Club last won the title in the 2011-12 season under coach Armando Colaco.
Last year playing the first season under former captain and new coach Samir Naik the Golden Eagles narrowly missed on the crown to Sporting Clube de Goa finishing second, however, the former I-League champion is aiming to throw everything against Goan FC in the final league match which is a must win for them.
“We cannot take them lightly. The chances are open for both the teams we cannot say that we are favourites or they are favourites. One thing I can say right now is the fact that my boys are ready to take on Goan FC,” said Dempo Sports Club coach Samir Naik.
At one point of time Dempo Sports Club were trailing Goan FC by eight points but the Golden Eagles fought their way back to the top as they lost just two matches and drew three.
Dempo SC have scored most goals in the league netting 64 times and also conceded second least (18) goals thus making them the side having a mammoth goal difference of 46 goals but despite having a better goal difference, they are placed below Goan FC, who have +50 goal difference, due to their inferior head to head record.
Dempo will bank heavily on their top goal scorer Joaquim Abranches whose resurgence from the slump has helped the side.
“Joaquim has transformed a lot. His resurgence and rise in form has helped the team. But its not just independent game play. The entire team has given their best and supported my game plan. The boys deserve credit and the title will be the perfect gift,” said Samir while commenting on the league’s top goal scorer Joaquim Abranches.
“We have to give are best tomorrow. That’s going to be the most important 90 minutes for us. The boss (Shrinivas Dempo) trusted us and trusted me in our run so far and I don’t want to disappoint him. We will give our best to get the title back home,” concluded Samir, who last lifted the trophy in the year 2011.
Goan FC to stick to attacking football
FC Goa are known for their attacking football which have made them one of the most feared teams in the Indian football. No doubt, their attacking game plan finally won them the Super Cup title and the young Gaurs have the opportunity to make the club proud by winning the domestic league crown.
“Dempo SC are a strong side and that’s the reason they are in that position today. We have to focus on our aggressive play against our experienced opponents,” said FC Goa Development Team Technical Director Derrick Pereira.
“We worked hard as a team and going forward we will stick to our style of play,” added Pereira.
Last year the young Gaurs finished fourth but this year, the youthful Goan FC side who have managed to produce another young talent –Savior Gama to the senior team --have improved massively wherein they have lost just two games and drew three others. Goan FC just need a draw against Dempo SC to lift the crown.
“I personally feel we are in a good situation and everyone is excited for the game. This season we were more consistent as we won the matches with huge margins. But later after the break, there was a slump and affected our season a bit, but we recovered and fought our way back to the top,” added Derrick.
Goan FC were beaten in their previous match against Sporting Clube de Goa and a win for the Young Gaurs would have made it a little difficult for Dempo SC.
However, Derrick believes that such things happen to some of the best teams in the world and feels the boys will give their best for the final.
“We go by our philosophy that is with attacking style of football. We are focusing more to develop the players to play in the first team. There is pressure on everyone to perform and I am sure, if the boys take the responsibility we will have good result,” added Derrick.
With the likes of Liston Colaco, Savior Gama, Princeton Rebello the young Gaurs will now bank on their collective team efforts against the strong Dempo Sports Club.