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Dempo depleted ahead of Al Sharjah test

I-League champions and the first Indian team to make the AFC Cup semi-finals, Dempo could be seriously depleted ahead of their biggest test - the first Asian Champions League qualifiers, reports Gordon D'Costa.

sports Updated: Feb 10, 2009 13:27 IST
Gordon D'Costa

I-League champions and the first Indian team to make the AFC Cup semi-finals, Dempo could be seriously depleted ahead of their biggest test - the first Asian Champions League qualifiers.

Dempo play Al Sharjah in a one-off match away on February 25. The qualifiers will make it to Group B in the finals.

The I-League champions will be forced to start with two foreigners - half the permissible quota, an Asain import included - for this big game. Congolese import Mboyo Iyomi has a groin injury and doctors have advised him to take a long lay-off. The last time he played was as a substitute in the Goan club's 1-0 win against East Bengal on November 26.

Four Indian players too are on the casualty list. Dempo's reliable international defender Mahesh Gawli is still recuperating from a hamstring injury and is expected to be out of action for at least 2-3 more weeks.

Another central defender, Dominic Noronha, has twisted his knee, Joaquim Abranches has a thigh muscle strain after Sunday's 2-2 draw against Vasco and reserve goalkeeper Abhijit Mondal has a broken finger.

However, despite the adversities, coach Armando Colaco sounded as cool as ever when he spoke to the Hindustan Times from Goa.

"Every member of the team is a good player. Even if these injured players don't recover in time, I'm confident the replacements will do a good job," he said.

Colaco pointed out that his team has always done well outside India. "Whenever we went out to play, we have done reasonably well. I hope that this time too, we put up a good performance and finish the chances we create," he stated.

The Goan coach also rued the loss of Iyomi and was disappointed that it would not be possible to get a replacement. "It's too late. Now we can't request for a replacement. Maybe if we qualify, then we may look to get another player foreign player."

Iyomi is likely to go home this week, informed Colaco. "He (Iyomi) is anyhow not available to play and since he wants to go home, there is no point in holding him back. We will fulfill whatever he wants from us," said Colaco.

Meanwhile, Colaco is doing his homework by watching recordings of Al Sharjah's matches.

"They (Al Sarjah) are a strong side who are placed third in their league and it's going to be a tough match.

“We have to prepare accordingly and hope the injured players recover soon," he said.

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