Calcutta/ Margao: This is the match we all have been waiting for. And the mood stays different in the two camps. East Bengal are a bit desperate; it’s understandable.
It’s now or never for the red and gold brigade. Unless they are able to register a win against Dempo at the Nehru Stadium in Fatorda on Friday, it will be all over.
On the other hand, with two matches remaining, Dempo just need a point to pocket the I-League for the record fifth time. And it’s quite understandable, Dempo coach, the venerable Armando Colaco, remains confident that his team can get the desired result.
Dempo stay at the top of the League table with 53 points from 24 matches, while East Bengal are on 44 points from 23 matches.
Armando remains keen to wrap up the title in front of the home crowd itself. “Leaving it for the last match will be dangerous. I am sure that we can get a positive result against East Bengal and the boys understand the importance of the challenge,” said the former India coach.
Dempo have been in blazing form in the last two matches as they recorded convincing wins against Churchill Brothers and then Sporting Clube de Goa.
“We have experienced players who are aware of their job. I do not need to remind them,” Armando reiterated.
Armando is expected to field the same squad which demolished Sporting Clube although there was renewed hope that defender Mahesh Gawli could return from injury.
“I don’t find myself under any pressure. There is nothing to lose for us against East Bengal. The pressure in fact is on East Bengal as it is a must-win match for them and they are playing away from home,” added the Dempo coach.
East Bengal have been going about their business in a quiet manner and coach Trevor Morgan remains confident that his team can upset the odds and get a favourable result.
East Bengal have won just once in 11 attempts against Dempo at Fatorda.
However, Morgan rubbished Armando’s claim that East Bengal are under pressure. “The I-League title is for Dempo to lose. The pressure is not on us, it’s on them,” Morgan commented.
“We are going into this match knowing that we need a win and nothing else. I am aware that even if we win this match, we may still not be champions. But in the last stages, nothing can be predicted,” Morgan explained.
East Bengal will be missing Nigerian defender Uga Okpara and India under-23 captain Raju Gaikwad will be replacing him.
THE ifs and buts...
A draw in either of their remaining two matches is enough for Dempo SC to win
If East Bengal win all their remaining three matches and Dempo lose both their remaining two, East Bengal will win the I-League