Dempo SC hope to resurrect I-League campaign against East Bengal
Dempo SC will look to get into the groove as they battle for points and more against East Bengal Club in a crucial I-League encounter at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Margao on Sunday evening.
Dempo raised the bar with an exceptional performance in the Federation Cup where they lost to Bengaluru FC in the final after being reduced to ten men. Their opening encounter in the I-League against Bengaluru FC, a repeat of the final, also saw them dish out a scintillating performance, and although it ended only in a draw, Dempo had won plenty of admirers.
The admirers are fast losing hope in this side as Dempo have been unable to replicate the same form. They have won just one of their seven matches in the competition – a demolition of bottom-placed Sporting Clube de Goa – and coach Arthur Papas was so incensed with the team's performance in the last game against Shillong Lajong FC, where they lost, that he gave the customary pre-match press conference the miss.
Not everything is lost for Dempo though. They have a side that is bristling with promising players and will fancy reversing the trend against East Bengal, who have had to deal with problems of their own.
East Bengal now have a new man at the helm of affairs after the Kolkata club showed the door to Armando Colaco. New coach Eelco Schattorie took charge a few days ago and saw his team being drubbed in the AFC Cup, Asian football's second tier club competition. He has little time on hand to script a turnaround in the I-League, although his previous stint as coach with United SC should help.
The visitors will largely aim to forget their Goa travails this season when they clash with Dempo. They played Sporting Clube in the opener here and shared the spoils, although many neutrals felt they were lucky to get away with a point after being at the receiving end for a major part of the second session.
Placed fifth, East Bengal will strive hard to climb up the league and will primarily count upon their talismanic strike pair of Ranty Martins Soleye (leading scorer with 5 goals) and MacPherlin Dudu Omagbemi.