Powerhouses of Goan football raring to perform in I-League

PANAJI: The Sports Journalist Association of Goa on Wednesday interacted with the coaches and club officials of the four top teams of Goa that will participate in the I-League season 2012-2013.

The I-League is slated to kick off on October 6 with Dempo SC and Churchill Bros playing the Goa-leg opener at PJN, Fatorda. The top four Goan outfits mainly Dempo SC, Salgaocar FC, Churchill Bros and Sporting Club de Goa will be jointly conducting the I-league matches in association with the Goa Football Association.
Custodio Almeida, Manager of Dempo SC told newsmen that the team has been together for long and although they had very little time to prepare for the I-league after their Federation Cup outing. Dempo will surely miss the services of their former star striker Ranty Martins who was the top goal-scorer for two consecutive seasons. With Mahesh Gawli and Climax Lawrence performing exceptionally at the Federation Cup there are no injury concerns to the duo as they will play a key role in this season as they bring on their experience and skills in the squad.
“There are growing security concerns at the Tilak grounds, Vasco as the stands are very close to the grounds and the organisers must consider this matter seriously,” said Custodio.  He further added: “I urge the fans to turn out in large numbers to support the team.”
Dempo SC have included seven promising junior players from their youth team this season, and it is left to the coach Armando Colaco to field his best combination in their season opening match against Churchill Bros. Salgaocar FC Media Officer, Abhijeet Patel emphasised the team’s commitment on building strong fan base this season with the sale of merchandise. The declining number of spectators is a growing concern for Goan football and must be carefully studied to pull the fans back to the stands.
“The club has put in efforts last season by holding entertainment programmes during the games, which was a success but a fan base generally develops due to the team’s success” said Abhijeet. 
“The vision of Club president Mr Shivanand Salgaocar is to build a strong youth development programme which will be a resource to the senior team and the coach Karim Bencherifa has the same ideology, ” informed Abhijeet.
Churchill Bros coach, Mariano Dias on the other hand speaking on the security concerns at the Tilak Maidan, Vasco, said: “I think the venue will work in favour of the players as the stands are close to the sidelines which will cheer the players and I request the spectators to attend in large numbers in a sporting spirit.”
Sporting Club de Goa have a tough task as they take on East Bengal and Mohun Bagan early in the season but the home advantage will definitely play an important role informed coach Jitendra Singh who’s shoulders are feeling the pressure after Sporting missed out on qualification in the Federation Cup semi-finals. The Flaming Oranje look to regroup this season and give the top flights a run for their money.
Meanwhile, IMG-Reliance, the commercial partner of All India Football Federation (AIFF) on Wednesday announced a three-year deal, contracting Ten Sports to broadcast I-League and Federation Cup competitions across various platforms, such as Television, IPTV, DTH, HITS, Internet TV and Mobile.
As part of this deal, TEN Sports will broadcast seventy five live and delayed I-League matches on TEN Action. Football fans across the country can catch the inaugural day action between Pailan Arrows vs Mumbai FC to be played at Kolkata at 2.30 pm and Dempo SC vs Churchill Brothers to be played at Goa at 5.30 pm.
Club representatives present during the interactive session were: Dempo Sports Club: Clifford Miranda (captain), Custodio Almeida (Manager),Gavin Araujo (Youth Development Officer). Salgaocar FC: Abhijeet Patil (Media Officer), Nicholas Falcao (Asst Secretary). Churchill Bros: Mariano Dias (coach), Watson (Media Officer). Sporting Club de Goa: Kieta (captain), Jitendra Singh (coach),Anju Albuquerque(Manager), Victor Fernandes (Vice President & CEO).
Round 1:Oct6: United Sikkim FC v Salgaocar SC (Gangtok); Pailan Arrows v Mumbai FC (Kolkata); Dempo SC v Churchill Bros (Margao); Pune FC v ONGC (Pune); Shillong Lajong v Mohun Bagan (Shillong).Oct 7: Sporting Clube de Goa v East Bengal Club (Margao); Prayag United SC v Air India (Kolkata).