Salgaocar Sports Club’s fine run of six wins in seven matches will be under threat as they meet arch-rivals Dempo Sports Club in the Goa Derby at the Nehru Stadium, Fatorda, on Sunday (January 29).
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“It will not be the same surely. They are a very good team and will, as usual, complicate things for us,” admitted Dempo Coach Mauricio Afonso.
Mauricio is expected to field a strong side and hand over starts to Nigerian strikers Ranty Martins and Koko Sakibo. Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Densil Theobad, who had two good games since his inclusion, will also start alongside Climax Lawrence in central midfield.
“This match becomes all the more crucial because Salgaocar too would be nursing hopes of moving on top. It’s imperative that we collect points and move further away from our challengers,” said Afonso, who is now deputising for Armando Colaco who remains hospitalised.
Except for Rowilson Rodrigues, Dempo will be at full-strength against their archrivals.
Salgaocar, the defending champions, have covered lost ground in the last seven matches, picking up an astonishing 19 points. Their only setback has been a draw against Mohun Bagan in Kolkata and Coach Karim Bencherifa will be more than keen to continue the fine run.
Dempo Sports Club are leading the league title race with 36 points and should they put it across Salgaocar, the former champions would have opened an incredible nine point gap at the top of the table. Salgaocar (28 points) too have everything to play for.