I-League: Dempo on verge of title, can East Bengal deny them?

Tomorrow evening Dempo SC take on East Bengal Club at the Nehru Stadium, Margao in a match which could decide the fate of this seasons I-League, then the Goans are on 53 points from 24 matches and the Kolkata giants on 44 points from 23 matches. A draw would be enough for Dempo's to win their fifth I-league/NFL title in eight seasons, while the red-and-gold can only keep their small title chances alive with a win but would need to win their remaining two matches while Dempo lose their final game against Prayag United SC.

Despite knowing they are on the brink, Dempo SC's chief coach Armando Colaco remains confident that his team can get the desired result.

Armando remains keen to wrap up the title in front of the home crowd itself. "Leaving it for the last match will be dangerous. I am sure that we can get a positive result against East Bengal and the boys understand the importance of the challenge," said Armando.

Dempo have been in blazing form in the last two matches at Fatorda as they recorded convincing Goan derby wins against Churchill Brothers SC (4-2) and then Sporting Clube de Goa (4-1).

"We have experienced players who know what to do. I do not need to remind them," Armando reiterated.

Armando is expected to field the same squad which demolished Sporting Clube de Goa although there was renewed hope that seasoned defender Mahesh Gawli could return from injury.

"I don't find myself under any pressure. There is nothing to lose for us against East Bengal. The pressure in fact is on East Bengal as it is a must win match for them and they are playing away from home," added the Dempo Coach.

But East Bengal are going about their business in a quiet manner and coach Trevor Morgan remains confident that his team can upset the odds and get a favourable result. East Bengal have won just once in 11 attempts against Dempo in the I-League at the Fatorda Stadium (Nehru Stadium).

However, Morgan rubbished Armando's claim that East Bengal are under pressure. "The I-League title is for Dempo to lose. The pressure is not on us; it's on them," Morgan commented.

"We are going into this match knowing that we need a win and nothing else. I am aware that even if we win this match, we may still not be Champions. But in the last stages, nothing can be predictable," Morgan explained.

East Bengal will be missing Nigerian defender Uga Okpara due to a card suspension and India Under-23 captain Raju Gaikwad will be replacing him at the back, which didn't look stable against Chirag United Kerala in a 4-3 win.

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