Mapusa: Injury-hit Dempo Sports Club will be looking to turn things around when they face United Sikkim FC in an I-League match here in Mapusa on Friday. Dempo have been far from their best and most of their woes seem to occur due to the absence of their key players.
The Goan outfit will have to do without dependable defender Mahesh Gawli, midfielder Peter Carvalho and Japanese striker Ryuji Sueoka. Besides, Clifford Miranda, Anthony Pereira and Koko Sakibo are all nursing injuries but will be forced to take the field.
"Injuries are a big concern. I never talk about the player we miss out but three bigwigs will be out and some players will be forced to continue despite not being fully fit," said Dempo coach Armando Colaco.
Dempo are placed third in the I-League table after the latest calculations with 30 points from 15 matches. They are behind Churchill Brothers (34 points from 14 matches) and East Bengal (33 points from 16 matches), but the defending champions are aware that a couple of good results will take them to top of the league ladder.
"Title chances cannot be talked about now but we are among the top teams. We are not far off, though we have not been at our best. The free-flowing football that everyone associates with us is missing. We have to find our touch," said the former India coach, who is expected to start with Godwin Franco and Climax Lawrence in central midfield, while Joaquim Abranches and Sakibo will be the strike-pair.
United Sikkim are in the relegation zone, along with Mohun Bagan, with 10 points from 15 matches, but Nathan Hall, the youngest coach in the League, feels neither he nor his team is under pressure.
United Sikkim did put up a decent performance against Churchill Brothers in their last match but were unlucky not to collect anything for their efforts. Debutant striker John Matkin scored a good goal and it will be interesting to see how the Mexican-American striker performs against Dempo.