Churchill test for champs Dempo in opening tie

Football I-League:Pailan Arrows hope to start their campaign on positive note

Defending champions Dempo will be looking to garner full points when they take on Churchill Brothers in the opening match of the I-League at the Nehru Stadium in Fatorda here on Saturday.

Dempo, who had suffered a heart-breaking loss to East Bengal in the Federation Cup final last Sunday, are keen to go all the way in the I-League.

Dempo’s coach Armando Colaco said that he was a bit disappointed after losing the the Federation Cup final, which they had won four years back.

“The boys played good football during the tournament under difficult conditions. However, the I-League will be a different ball game, which is stretched over six-month period where we have to remain focussed and there is no place for complacency. I have told the players to enjoy their game and not worry about the result,” Colaco said.

Dempo will miss their top scorer for the past two seasons, Ranty Martins, who has moved to Prayag United. But his place will be filled by English striker Rohan Ricketts who will play along side Ryuji Sueoka upfront.

They will be backed by Climax Lawrence, Anthony Pereira, Clifford Miranda, while Mahesh Gawli, Cresent Antao, Sameer Naik and Valeriano Rebello will form the back four.

Churchill Brothers, who lost to East Bengal in the semifinals, have done well in the Federation Cup and coach Mariano Dias said he would like his boys to put up a better performance on Saturday against the arch-rivals.

Meanwhile, lowly-placed Pailan Arrows and Mumbai FC will lock horns at the Yuba Bharati Krirangan in Kolkata.

Arrows, who had finished a lowly 13th in the previous season with just two wins, impressed in the recently-concluded Federation Cup with two draws and a win against Shillong Lajong.

The two draws were against I-League champions Dempo and Mumbai FC. Therefore, the young Arrows side are expected to be upbeat even without their Australian coach Arthur Papas, who could not make it due to visa problem.

Shillong Lajong FC will aim to begin their campaign on a high when they host Kolkata’s Mohun Bagan.

The Kolkata giants, who failed to reach the semi-finals of the recently concluded Federation Cup, are under a bit of pressure to win the match.
“The boys are complaining of cold,” Bagan coach Santosh Kashyap said, adding: “Away matches are always difficult but they stay the same for every team.”
Lajong’s campaign is likely to be boosted by a full crowd at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.

Action today

* Pailan Arrows vs Mumbai FC (2.30 pm, Live on TEN Sports)
* Shillong Lajong vs Mohun Bagan
* United Sikkim vs Salgaocar
* Dempo vs Churchill Brothers (5.30 pm, Live on TEN Sports).

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