I-League begins Saturday, spotlight on Dempo-Salgaocar clash

October 21st, 2011 - 10:38 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Oct 21 (IANS) The showpiece I-League football tournament begins Thursday with defending champions Salgaocar taking on Dempo in Goa while Super Cup winners East Bengal face Churchill Brothers after a glittering opening ceremony at the Salt Late Stadium in Kolkata.

It would be an action packed opening day as Pune FC host newly promoted Shillong Lajong while in Bangalore, HAL take on Chirag United.

But the spotlight will be on the high-voltage clash between Salgaocar and four-time champion Dempo at the Nehru Stadium in Fatorda, Margao.

Armando Colaco will be seen in charge with Dempo after having spent a brief period with the national team without much success.

“We are going in as underdogs as we haven’t got the right start and the players are rusty as they need to play a couple of matches before settling down. We have never got a good start in the past and will be looking for a win tomorrow to get the early momentum going,” said Colaco.

Dempo will certainly lack creativity of attacking mid-fielder Beto. The Brazilian moved to Churchill Brothers leaving a huge gap in Dempo mid-field. Dempo’s latest recruit from Trinidad and Tobago Densill Tabaldo is expected to fill in Beto’s absence.

Salgaocar ended the season winning both the I-League and the Federation Cup but made a disappointing starting this time by losing to East Bengal 9-8 via sudden death in the Super Cup. The team has no injury concerns and Nigerian Edeh Chidi, along with I-League’s best player Japanese Ryuiji Seoka, will be leading the team’s attack. Goalkeeper Karanjit Singh will be the man to watch out for.

In Kolkata, after a glittering opening ceremony, East Bengal, fresh from their Super Cup triumph, will be looking to make a winning start against Churchill Brothers.

East Bengal finished runners-up last year and also lost the Federation Cup final to Salgaocar. But they made a brilliant start to the season, beating Salgaocar in the Super Cup and will be looking to make the most of the winning start.

Coaches by Trevor Morgan, East Bengal surely are the top contenders for the title. The won the title eight years back when the tournament was known as the National Football League.

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