The 2012-13 season might not have been a glorious one for the blue eagles as it was marred by controversies, injuries and several off-field issues that saw the club finish fifth on the table despite reaching the finals of Federation Cup at the start of the season. The five time I-League champions, uncharacteristically, finished without a single trophy in their cabinet, and also witnessed its long serving coach Armando Colaco being released along with all foreign players.
However, the club seems to have moved on from the debacle as it roped in an experienced Arthur Papas this June as a replacement of Colaco. This appointment brought a fresh wave of air into the club and the Blue brigade is once again set for the footballing carnival.
After signing up for his new club, Papas wasted no time in making his intentions clear as almost 30 players, including the experienced ones like Climax Lawrence and Joaquim Abranches were shown the door by the new gaffer. He has ensured quality performances with the signing of Jeje Lalapekhluha and a second chance to the veteran Samir Naik at the club, which he considers his school.
With the All India Football Federation (AIFF) bringing a norm to restrict the number of foreign players down to four, Papas was handed an additional responsibility of signing the club’s marquee players within the specified budget. The Australian seems to have done a good job there too.
Simon Colosimo, Roberto Mendes Silva aka Beto, Shinnosuke Honda and Billy Mehmet will look to add strength and stability to the blue brigade that will be in search for a 6th league title this seaon. As the new season dawns, there is a renewed hunger and freshness in the club and the Dempo fans are hoping that the club will bounce back from the disappointment of the last season.
Goalkeepers: Laxmikant Kattimani, Tyson Caiado, Shilton Fernandes and Subhasish Roy Chowdhury
Subhasish has been Dempo’s first choice keeper for some time now and the 27-year-old is once again expected to start between the sticks. Subhasish has been a regular in the national team though, he has played second fiddle to Karanjit Singh and Subrata Paul. The 6-feet-tall goalkeeper has fast reflexes and bailed Dempo out of trouble several times in the previous season and will be expected to do the same again.
Subhasish will be assisted by 24-year-old Laxmikant Kattimani who last represented India for the U-23 team in the Pre-Olympic qualifiers and 2009 SAFF Cup. As tall as 6 feet, Kattimani provides a solid backup to Subhasish and the healthy competition between the two augurs well for Dempo.
Kattimani will be keen to impress Papas and get more playing time in whatever opportunity he gets. Tyson Caiado and youngster Shilton Fernandes are the other two goalkeepers in the team and are likely to be restricted to action in the Goa Pro League.
Defence: Debabrata Roy, Jessel Carneiro, Shallum Pires, Samir Naik, Mahesh Gawli, Creson Antao, Prathamesh Maulingkar, Simon Colosimo and Shinnosuke Honda
Defence was one of the major concerns for Dempo last season as Debabrata Roy, Samir Naik and Mahesh Gawli were sidelined at some point of the season owing to injuries. This saw a make-shift defence being fielded by Colaco too often as the squad had lacked enough depth to fill in for the unprecedented losses.
Hence, it came as no surprise that former Australian defender Simon Colosimo became the first signing after the appointment of Arthur Papas. The 34-year-old has 25 feathers to his cap and is expected to lead from the front.
Highly rated lanky defender Prathamesh Maulingkar, who played under Papas last season, is another player to watch out for and either him or Creson Antao is expected to partner Colosimo in the heart of Dempo’s defence. Veteran Mahesh Gawli, who is recovering from an injury is another option that Papas can exercise, when the player is fit.
Debabrata Roy will be a sure starter at the left-back spot and the I-League veteran will look to contribute offensively as well, while either Sameer Naik or Shallum Pires is expected to start as the right back. Jessel Carneiro is the other defender in the team who can play as a left back.
After a shaky start in the first couple of matches in the Goa Pro League, the Dempo defence lead by Simon Colosimo has settled nicely. However a knock to Antao, forced Dempo to sign their fourth foreign player – Japanese defender Shinnosuke Honda, The 23-year-old central defender who can also play a pivotal role as a holding mid-fielder is expected to bring in his J- League experience whenever he gets the nod.