I-L: Arrows ready for Dempo challenge
Two sides with different constitutions but having similar objectives provide the prospect of a keen encounter in the 12th round of I-League at Kolkata's Salt Lake Stadium on Saturday.
When Pailan Arrows, the developmental side of the All India Football Federation, and the title aspirant Dempo SC face each other there would be no dearth of action as both have faced a reverse in their previous outings and seek to regain the winning form.
Goa giant Dempo suffered one of the biggest loss in recent times when they were humiliated 1-5 by Pune FC at their home. This defeat cost the defending champion their preeminent perch on top of the standings as they conceded the top position to state-rival Churchill Brothers.
Coach Armando Colaco oversaw the team's practice in the morning ahead of team's new assignment but chose not to speak to the media for a change and asked his senior players to do the talking.
"It is right that Arrows are the only side without a foreigner but the team is very good as they are grooming the future India players," said Subhasish Roy Chowdhury, the goalkeeper.
"Arrows are a youthful side and have lot of energy. They will definitely look to make the most the home advantage They are youthful and have abundant energy, which is the biggest point about the side," he added.
"We lost our last match against Pune FC but hopefully that would not have any impression in tomorrow's match. It will be a new day and a new game. We have come out of that defeat, which was like a bad day in office. That would not affect our performance against out new opposition," Subhasish said.
Dempo are missing the English forward Rohan Ricketts and seasoned Mahesh Gawli for injury. Even their Japanese striker Ryuiji Sueoka did not practice on Friday owing to injury. Nigerian Koko Sakibo was the only foreigner who turned out for the morning practice.
Arrows will be taking the field after a 11-day break. With team's 11th round match against Mohun Bagan deferred, Caoch Arthur Papas hoped the break would not hamper the rhythm of the side.
"We have been playing every week and that set us in a rhythm. We hope the break would not affect the rhythm and the team continues to play its original game," said Arthur Papas after Arrows' practice.
"We have held Dempo 1-1 in our last meeting in Federation Cup. But that happened quite some time ago in September. Dempo is a good side and has a fine balance of foreign and Indian players. They would give us a tough challenge," said Papas.
"There were lapses in concentration that saw us losing against Churchill Brothers (in the 10th round). One loss does not mean that the team will have to be changed. I can say there are no suspensions and injuries in the side and we hope to give a better performance against our new opponent," he said.
Dempo have 25 points from 11 matches while Arrows are on 14 points gained from 10 matches.