GOA: Dempo Sports Club coach Arthur Papas is aware just how big a threat Shillong Lajong FC could pose as the two lock horns in a Hero I-League encounter at Nehru Stadium, Fatorda, on Saturday.
Dempo Sports Club and Shillong Lajong FC are at the opposite ends of the I-League form book. While Dempo remain unbeaten in five matches and are placed seventh with seven points, Shillong Lajong are struggling for form this season and have just three points in their kitty after losing three matches.
But, despite the oddity in form, Papas knows he and his team cannot take their rivals for granted.
“Our opponents have all the four foreigners available and I do not want to underestimate them. It will be a tough match but it’s an important match for us if we want to make progress,” said Papas at the pre-match briefing.
Like Papas pointed out, Shillong Lajong have their full quota of foreign players available. Brazilian midfielder Uilliams, Glen Cornell, Penn Orji and Minchol Son are all available for Saturday’s battle and they can pose plenty of problems for the home side.
“Now that Minchol Son is available, their defence will be more solid and it is going to be tough challenge to beat them. Our team has dominated most of the matches but have not scored. I hope we score when opportunities come,” said the Australian coach.
Dempo have remained unbeaten in the competition so far but as the statistics point out they have won just one of their five matches: a 3-0 demolition of Sporting Clube de Goa at home. Since then they have been playing away and this is only their second match at home.
Dempo will have to do without the services of centre-back Calum Angus and Costa Rican midfielder Carlos Hernandez while a number of domestic players too are nursing injuries.
Shillong Lajong have failed to hit the right notes in the I-League. They have just one victory to their credit and having lost three games, the fragility at the back stands exposed.
It’s true that all of Shillong Lajong’s foreign players joined the team late. Now that coach Thangboi Singto has all available, he will be hoping for an improved performance.
Match KO: Feb 21 @ 4:30 PM IST (Ten Action)