Dempo SC started the second half of the I-League campaign strongly with a clinical 2-0 victory over Rangdajied United.
The Goan side have been struggling this season and coach Arthur Papas hailed the performance from his players on the given day.
"I'm proud of the players because we have had our backs to the wall. It hasn't been an easy season. I think, even in the Federation Cup, we turned the corner. We were unfortunate not to make it past the semi-final, but I'm proud of the effort. The new boys have adjusted well. They are also giving us something.
"I thought in the first half (against Rangdajied) we should have finished the game off. We had enough chances - hitting the post, rebounds and probably had five very good chances in the first half. The good thing was that we scored right at the stroke of half-time and so we go in 2-0 up into the second half.”
Rangdajied tried to fight back after the break and Dempo were looking to hold on to their lead and snatch three vital points.
"That's a normal reaction from any bottom team. I don't expect them to roll over. They are fighting to survive. So in the second half, we had to also show a lot of courage. We weren't courageous enough with the ball in the second half, which probably hurt us because we were turning it over too quickly and they were playing on the counter attack.
"The defense was really good. [Haroon] Amiri was outstanding, playing his first I-League match with Dempo and I feel a lot more comfortable with him in there as well. It was good to keep a clean sheet. We must take this as a positive result for us because the last time we were 2-0 up against Rangadajied in Shillong and the game finished 2-2.
"2-0 up today and we needed to show that we have matured from that time. It wasn't pretty towards the end, but three points was all that mattered.”
Playing the same eleven from the Federation Cup loss against Sporting Clube de Goa, Papas expressed his delight in finally finding the right balance in the team after a difficult league campaign so far.
"I think the balance is quite good. I think I have a bench as well that I can use. I'm leaving some very good young players out at the moment and that's what having a squad is all about. We are very balanced in the team for the style of football that I like to play and now I feel that I can change three-to-four players and it doesn't affect us.
"We've done that in the Federation Cup as well. We've changed four-to-five players from the first game to the second, but they looked like the same team because there is continuity in the training, there is continuity in the characteristics of the players.”
Twelve Dempo players signed long term contracts at the club last week and Papas expressed his delight in finding the cream of Indian players at the club.
"We played almost the whole month without any foreigners. That was difficult. We hadn't had an easy season, to be honest, for many reasons. But like I said, I think it's a group that's really together and wanting to improve, and we're all working for one cause - to get Dempo back to a higher level.
"A lot of positive things are happening. We're still playing with a lot of young boys as well. The balance is quite good now. If it had been too many younger players, then it gets difficult. You have got to find the balance, and we have probably done it at a very rapid rate.
"I said something to the chairman (Shrinivas Dempo) when I first signed here - getting these young boys. I mean, this week, we've put pen to paper for twelve of them for long term from inside and outside of Dempo. That's a big thing, to be honest. The club now has the cream of the talent in India and that is regardless of Arthur Papas being here or not.”
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