The 2012-13 I-League has turned out to be a disaster for five-time record Indian champions Dempo, as for the first time in I-League history they have suffered five straight defeats and are winless in seven games. Such a run has ended their hopes of retaining the crown, but more worryingly it has raised question marks about the future of coach Armando Colaco and several senior players.
Armando has admitted publicly that he could quit at the end of the season and experienced members like Climax Lawrence, Mahesh Gawli and Clifford Miranda could also leave the Goan club.
But the first half of the season was going according to plan for the defending champions as they were leading the table. However, personal problems between Armando and former EPL player Rohan Ricketts led to the latter’s departure from the club, while Ghana defender Stephen Offei was also released without even being registered for the I-League.
Those two decisions were the catalyst of Dempo’s difficult second part of the season, and then injuries and suspensions reduced their squad to bare bones and suddenly the wins dried up. Despite the experience in their squad, the Goan giants were unable to recover from the slump and now are in danger of finishing outside the top four for the first time since 2006.
One of those experienced stars and a former India captain, Climax Lawrence is bitterly disappointed with how the season has gone for Dempo and he explained the reasons in an exclusive chat with Sportskeeda.
“This is the most difficult phase of my time here. This is my eighth season with Dempo and never before have we had such a bad run. The problem has been several injuries to players, because even the ones who have replaced an injured player have got hurt and missed out. We have also missed the goals of someone like Ranti (Martins), who used to get us out of tight situations in the past. This season, (Ryuji) Sueoka started well but got injured and Koko (Sakibo) also hasn’t been at his best,” the 34-year-old stated.
The midfield general admits that Dempo could face a period of transition next season if Armando parts ways and several experienced players leave.
“Yes, it could be a very young team next year but the club can’t be looking backwards. It has to move forward somehow,” he added.
While some people might doubt Climax moving out of Goa at this stage of his career, the midfielder however doesn’t rule out a transfer to another city as he believes any decision of his will have complete support from his family, which includes his son whom he named ‘Xavi’.
“I would consider a move anywhere as long as it makes sense but will only decide at the end of the season,” the 2005 AIFF Player of the Year commented.
National Team lacks experience
Climax, who retired from international football last year following the controversial exclusion from the 2012 AFC Challenge Cup squad during Savio Medeira’s reign, played down suggestions that the national team has gone backwards since the 2011 Asian Cup, but he admitted that the side currently lacks experience.
“I don’t believe we have gone backwards as the ranking has improved, but yes, we lack a bit of experience now or else maybe we would have got the point that was need against Myanmar to qualify for the 2014 Challenge Cup,” said the man who won 81 international caps for India.Published 12 Apr 2013, 18:25 IST