Margao: Bouyed by their Super Cup win, defending Champion Dempo is looking to carry forward their winning streak when they take on Churchill Brothers in their opening match of the I-League, to be played at the Nehru Stadium on Saturday.
Both the teams did not get the right pre-season start as they were eliminated in the semi-finals of the Federation Cup.
Dempo then skipped the Durand Cup and concentrated on getting the right combination before the I-League in the absence of their six regular players who are with the Indian team.
The Goa Professional League tournament helped them to settle down quickly and played their best match against Salgaocar which turned out to be high scoring which they won and took them at the top of the table with 21 points, one point above Churchill Bros.
Before playing the Super Cup where they beat East Bengal 3-1 in the finals, this boosted their confidence.
Churchill who lost Kalu Ogba to Dempo, Vashum Reisingma and Naoba Singh to East Bengal struggled to get the right combination in the midfield and as a result did not do well in the Federation Cup and the Durand Cup.
Among the foreigners, Churchill Bros tried to loan Koko Sakibo from Vasco and Rouholleh Samieinia who failed to impress and were dropped by the team and coach Vincent Subramanium who is aware of the task he has on his hands to win the I-league.
They have now recruited Australian striker of Liberian origin Boima Karpeh to partner Odafe Okolie and have kept the option to recruit another foreigner.
Boima is unlikely to play on Saturday as his registeration
formalities is still not done.
Both the teams have injury problems. Churchill will be missing Robert L while, Dempo will be without Valeriano Rebello and Cresent Antao. Striker Joaquim Abranches who has a niggling injury is a doubtful starter.
Dempo`s coach, Armando Colaco who is overwhelmed by his team winning the Super Cup beating Federation Cup Champion East Bengal said his team starts as a underdog with six of their mainstay players doing duty for the Indian team and three on the injury list.
"The boys put up a disciplined performance and rallied around Ranty Martins who is in fine form scoring a hatrick against East Bengal. Churchill is a formidable side as they have Odafe Okolie who can turn the tide single handly and we have to be on guard against him," said Colaco.
While Churchill`s coach Vincent Subramanian said that Dempo is an experienced side with good bench strength.
We have players who are inexperienced, but have done our home work and expect a tough fight, he said.