The 1-2 loss against Prayag United not just pegged Dempo back but also proved that all champion sides, even if they have been all-conquering, would have an off-day at some stage.
Assistant coach Mauricio Afonso said, “I still cannot explain how the entire team had an off day. I can understand if a couple of players misfired or a particular department were not up to the mark but against Prayag United, nothing clicked for us. The entire team played poorly”.
Champions, though, do not repeat their lacklustre performances and Afonso is confident that his side will measure up to the challenge against Chirag United Kerala in a 14th round I-League clash at the Nehru Stadium, Fatorda, on Saturday.
“The mood in training is upbeat. For the past week, I have noticed that the players are raring to go and I am sure that they will put their performance in the last match behind them. We have to start winning and prove we are the best team in the country,” said Armando Colaco’s assistant.
Dempo are leading the title race with 27 points at the end of the first phase but will know that challengers Churchill Brothers (26 points) have a match in hand. A win against Chirag United Kerala will give Dempo a four-point cushion and will then hope Churchill drop points in a tough-clash against Mohun Bagan on Sunday.
“It will not be easy against Chirag United Kerala. They are fast improving and they proved in the last match against Mumbai FC that they cannot be taken for granted. We will have to work hard for the three points,” said Afonso.
Despite the Prayag United fiasco, Dempo are likely to field the same squad, except, probably, for defender Mahesh Gawli who is nursing an injury and has not trained for the last couple of days. If Mahesh is not fit enough, Rowilson Rodrigues will be his straight-forward replacement.
Chirag United Kerala are in the relegation zone with 11 points but coach Pakeer Ali would have been encouraged by some recent performances. The last match in particular -- a 2-0 win over Mumbai FC in Pune -- proved that the Kerala side has the wherewithal to start winning.
The kick of is slated for 3:30 pm IST
Prayag United take on HAL Bangalore
Prayag United coach Sanjoy Sen has listed the 14th round I-League match against HAL Bangalore as a must win match, if his teams aspires to finish among the top teams. Prayag United are currently on 21 points of 13 matches and are placed sixth in the table while HAL are languishing at the bottom with two points from 13 outings.
When asked about the home encounter versus HAL, Sanjoy Sen, seemed confident yet cautious, “Compared to the other teams HAL seems weaker but no one can say what is going to happen in a game of football.
The I-League results in the past few weeks have been surprising. No one would have thought that Dempo would lose 4 matches and we also did not have a good outing against Pailan Arrows.”
HAL on the other hand reached the city with a full squad ahead of Fridays clash and had a morning practice session.
Sanjoy added that “There are no injury worries as of now and we will more or less start with the same squad which won against Dempo SC in the last round”
Kick-off is slated for 2 pm IST at the Salt Lake Stadium