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Rediff.com  » Sports » Dempo put I-League on backburner

Dempo put I-League on backburner

September 26, 2008 15:02 IST

For someone who has won domestic football's premier championships for two successive seasons, it should be a priority to chase a hat-trick, but Dempo coach Armando Colaco has opted out of the I-League title race lest they get 'distracted' from their goal of conquering Asia.

- Dempo still the team to beat in I-League

Dempo became the first Indian club to progress to the semi-finals of the AFC Cup when they defeated Home United 4-3 in Singapore.

"My priority right now is the AFC Cup semi-finals against Safa Club of Lebanon (on October 7 and 21). I don't want to spend time on the I-league. I don't want it to be a distraction," the Dempo coach said from Goa.

"Everybody knows Dempo in India. Now we want to make a name for ourselves in Asia. Earlier, it was all about Mohun Bagan and East Bengal, but now the tables have turned and Dempo's here to make waves.

"If we make it to the final of the AFC Cup, then it will be a great thing for Indian football," he said.

The I-League is starting on Friday in Kolkata and Goa simultaneously and the Dempo coach opted to keep his team out of the title race.

"I would be happy if we manage to stay afloat in the I-league. I don't want to go down to the second division," said the coach of the defending champions.

Colaco feels the AIFF and Goa Football Association should have considered Dempo's position and given them more time to prepare for the AFC Cup.

"We have a match today in the Goa Pro League and are playing JCT in the I-League on Sunday. It is madness; the players are going to be overworked. How can they run the Goa League and I-League simultaneously?" Colaco questioned.

Thus he has decided to rest his key players in the I-League. "I don't want them to pick up injuries.

"I wasn't worried when we lost to Salgaocar and Churchill Brothers by huge margins in the Goa Pro League. For I was playing my reserves. Our sole focus was the AFC Cup and it remains so."

Colaco, whose name was recommended for the Dronacharya Award, has meanwhile, written to the AFC and the AIFF urging them to slot Dempo's home match in the AFC Cup semi-final at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Fatorda.

Dempo had to play their quarter-final home match against Home United in Hyderabad since the stadium in Fatorda does not have floodlights.

"Our recent success in Asia has fuelled a lot more interest in the club and people want to see us play in Goa. That's why we have asked the AFC to allow us to play in Fatorda and in daylight.

"We hope for a positive outcome after the month of Ramzan comes to an end," he said. Dempo play Safa in Lebanon on October 7 and meet them at home on the 21st."

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