Federation Cup semi-finals Preview: Dempo vs Salgaocar
After weeks of regular football, the Hero Federation Cup is finally reached its business end. The semi-final games, as always, are eye candy as per the viewers’ point of view. A hefty and probably tournament favourites Dempo take on Salgaocar in the first semi-final of the Hero Federation Cup. This Goan derby is probably the highlight of the semi-finals. Both Dempo and Salgaocar would be hoping for a win to progress into the final.
Venue and Kick-off
The Fatorda Stadium, which is the home ground of Indian Super League franchise FC Goa, will host this stellar clash. The stadium has a capacity of 19,000 and given that it is a fixture between the two powerhouses of Goan football, big crowds are expected.
Kick-off Time: 4 PM IST
Dempo: Rowilson, Tolgay, Clifford, Mandar, Haroon, Romeo, Fulgencio, Jewel, Lenny, Francis, Laxmikant
Arguably the best team in the group stages was Dempo SC. The Golden Eagles were undefeated throughout the group stages and registered three wins in four matches. Dempo finished top of Group A with 10 points and a goal difference of +6. However, statistics might not pave the right image of the Goan outfit.
‘Mesmerizing’ is perhaps the right word to describe Dempo's gameplay. The quick-fire tacky passing has put Indian teams to bed by stamping a technical dominance. The form of both Romeo Fernandes is perhaps Dempo's strongest link. Romeo is the current joint top scorer with four goals. His scintillating play with and without the ball has thwarted the opposing teams’ advances.
Another major worry for Salgaocar is the in-form striker Tolgay Ozbey. Ozbey has bagged four goals and has been brilliant in the matches in the tournament. His ability to take on defenders and beat them has often enabled Dempo to break the deadlock. It is perhaps logical that Dempo would rely on their attacking crop to outscore Salgaocar. The Golden Eagles will look to attack Salgaocar's flanks.
Salgaocar: Karanjit, Kasonde, Gurjinder, Augustin, Kumar, Gilbert, Jairu, Lamare, Pierre, Dias, Aslon
After a frantic finish to Group B, Salgaocar finally qualified for the latter stages of the Federation Cup. With nine points, the team came second to Group B winners Bengaluru FC. Salgaocar's key link is arguably the duo of Douhou Pierre and Gurjinder Kumar. Both, Pierre and Kumar, have been in scintillating form. While, the former has found the net four times, the latter has scored thrice.
However, with Salgaocar facing a hefty Golden Eagles attack, both Pirerre and Kumar, would have to rely on counter attacks to score their share. The Greens are expected to sit and commit men behind the ball. Salgaocar's ability to hit swiftly on counter attacks could perhaps be a vital piece of their game play. Although Salgaocar has impressed fans with their style of play, they are still considered underdogs in this fixture.
Romeo Fernandes (Dempo)
After a stellar Indian Super League campaign, Romeo Fernandes has emerged as one of the hottest talents in Indian football. The 22-year-old quickly improved his form and justified his mettle in the Hero Federation Cup. The FC Goa player has scored four goals in four matches and is perhaps the biggest weapon in Dempo's armoury. His unparalleled pace fused with his ability to take on opposing defenders has wreaked havoc on defences in the Fed Cup.
Douhou Pierre (Salgaocar)
Pierre, like his opponent Romeo, has also scored four goals in four games. However, unlike Romeo, Pierre relies on his superior physical capabilities to tame opposing defenders. The 27-year-old has also been Salgaocar's creative outlet in this tournament.
Dempo 3-1 Salgaocar
A masterclass display by Dempo, which has been their story of Fed Cup, is expected to sink Salgaocar's ship. Dempo are expected to dominate possession and score a goal in the first 45 minutes itself.