“It’s champions versus champions tomorrow and we want to win”, said an upbeat Mauricio Afonso, assistant coach of I-League winners Dempo, a day before the Super Cup match against East Bengal, at the Tau Devi Lal Stadium in Gurgaon on Wednesday.
Having won the League on Saturday, Dempo are keen on finishing the national season on a high.
“We want to win the Super Cup. It’s the champions’ cup,” he said, on the eve of the clash between the Federation Cup and the I-League champions.
More so, because after two attempts Dempo are yet to win this match. They lost 0-3 to Sporting Clube in Kozhikode in 2005 and 0-4 to Mohun Bagan last season. And also because there is Rs 10 lakh as prize money to play for.
East Bengal may have had a disastrous I-League but Afonso likened taking them lightly “to digging a hole for yourself.”
Quizzed on whether in a match like this, three days after winning the League, motivation could be at a premium, Afonso shot back: “We lost 0-3 away to Mahindra and 0-1 to East Bengal in Kolkata. The boys were very upset. Only a win could have motivated them to get the campaign back on rails. We will play for a win tomorrow.”
Standing in for coach Armando Colaco, Afonso though agreed it is difficult play so soon after the League. “It is a bit hard on players for they are playing and travelling. But that is it has been scheduled.”
Dempo will miss five players — Mahesh Gawli, Antony Periera, Peter Carvalho, goalie Satish Kumar, and Valeriano Rebello — due to injury. Creson Antao, Johny D’Cruz, Dominique Noronha and Abhijit Mondal will play in their places.
Having showed mettle in avoiding the chop, for East Bengal this match is about continuing their comeback and repairing somewhat a season where little has gone right. So said Aloke Mukherjee, who on a two-month contract too is a stand-in coach.
“A win here would boost the boys’ confidence that will help them to play well in the IFA Shield,” he said.