Dempo to continue winning momentum
Having accounted for Lebanese giants Al Ansar at home in their first match, I-League champions would look to continue their winning momentum when they take on Sur Club of Oman in their AFC Cup away match on Tuesday.
The clinical 3-1 victory over Al Ansar, the reigning Lebanon Premier League champions, in Margao must have given Mauricio Afonso's boys a lot of confidence.
Dempo will be strengthened with the return of winger Anthony Pereira, midfielder Peter Carvalho, defenders Valeriano Rebello and Dominic Noronha to their ranks though ace defender Mahesh Gawli, who is nursing an injury, is certain to miss tomorrow's match at the Nizwa stadium, 150km from Muscat.
A win will be a huge morale booster for the Goan side before they take on Bahrain powerhouse and 2006 AFC Cup losing finalists Al Muharraq at home on April 2.
Sur Club, on the other hand, will have to give their home crowd something to cheer about after they lost 2-3 in their away match against Al Muharraq.
Afonso, however, has warned his boys not to lower their guards against their Omani Cup champions who also have three players of their national squad.
"Our confidence is high after the victory over Al Ansar. We have the advantage of getting off to a winning start but we can't be complacent," he said.
"Now we have a job at hand against Sur. They are a good side, to go down 2-3 to Al Muharaq is not bad. Moreover, we are playing at their home ground," Afonso said.
"Oman teams are known to be tough. We cannot take them lightly," the former India international added.
The coach lavished praise on skipper and star striker Ranti Martins.
"Ranti was absolutely superb in the last game (against Al Ansar). He was not at his best during the I-League, but against Al Ansar the real Ranti was back."
Martins scored twice against the run of play through his individual brilliance and set up the third goal for strike partner Chidi Edeh against Al Ansar and Afonso would hope the foreign recruits carried from where they left off in Margao.
Sur's Tunisian coach El Akhdar consider's tomorrow's tie as a make-or-break match for his side.
"It is very important and decisive. Either we win the game and remain in contention or we concede three points and lose the chance to compete in the group," he said.
"We have no other option but to win. Dempo are not going to be an easy team. We will try our best, although we don't know much about them," he added.
Only the top team from the five groups and three best second-place finishers make it to the quarterfinals. Dempo had failed to make it to the last eight stage in earlier two ocassions while Sur are taking part in Asia's second tier club competition for the first time.