Dempo have everything to gain against the UAE’s Al Sharjah in the AFC Champions League play-off, in Sharjah on Wednesday. Victory will book a berth in Group B of the main round — a first for an Indian club — along with Iran’s Persepolis, Al Shabab of Saudi Arabia and Qatar club Al Gharafa.
Dempo coach Armando Colaco told HT they would try and give it their best shot. “It’s going to be a good match. The boys are enthusiastic and are prepared to go all out and fight it out,” said Colaco from Sharjah.
“I have faith in them. They have worked hard and won almost every major tournament in the country. I’m confident that they will rise to the challenge,” said Colaco, who guided Dempo to the AFC Cup semi-finals this season. “We can create history if we qualify. If not, then we will be all too happy to make the Asian Football Cup.”
Considering Dempo’s recent form making history could be difficult. They have just one win and three draws in their last six matches. To add to their woes, Colaco also has injury worries. “I have to be content with whatever I have. Defender John Dias will come in for Creston Antao as the youngster does not have the experience for this big match,” he stated.
Dempo are set to continue with Beto playing upfront along with Ranty Martins. Nascimento Silveira will play along side captain Climax Lawrence, Clifford Miranda and Anthony Pereira in the midfield while Mahesh Gawli, Dias, Sameer Naik and Valeriano Rebello will shoulder the burden at the back.
Al Sharjah too have been struggling. They are currently seventh in the league and exited early from the President’s Cup.