BY ANSELM NORONHA Follow @apnoronha on twitter
Dempo SC coach Arthus Papas has clarified that his appointment as the assistant coach of Goa's Indian Super League (ISL) franchise, which is owned by Dempo SC chairman Shrinivas Dempo along with Dattaraj Salgaocar and Venugopal Dhoot of Videocon, cannot be confirmed as yet.
"Nothing has been confirmed as yet. I've said to the chairman (Shrinivas Dempo) and the franchise that I'm available based on making sure that we can manage the Dempo commitments as well. My first job (priority) and passion is Dempo and then anything else to help the chairman and the franchise, I'll be available and supportive," he revealed to Goal.
Papas, who is in his second year of his three-season deal with Dempo's I-League outfit, claims that the club achieved their targets of last year and feels that the bar has to be set a lot higher this season.
"Last year, we had our targets and we achieved them. The chairman said the first task was to rejuvenate the squad and that was a big job. I think we maintained 40 percent of the playing group and we brought in many talented younger players who, I think, you'll see a lot more than you did last season," he continued.
"Also, our goal was to finish in the top five of the I-League [2013-14], which we did. We improved on the season before's finish of fifth as we finished fourth. We made the semi-finals of the Federation Cup.
"There was a lot of talk about the demise of the Dempo brand of football, but in fairness I think we achieved quite a lot last year. Now this year, we have to set the bar a lot higher."
However, he added that expectations must be realistic considering that 14 of his players will feature in the ISL as well.
"We have to keep a realistic idea as well because we are one of the teams where majority of our players are in the ISL. The reality is that the Federation Cup starts on the 28th of December and everyone comes back to Dempo on the 21st of December.
"So teams like Sporting [Clube de Goa], Bengaluru [FC], Salgaocar [FC] - they are keeping their squad together the whole time. For five months they prepare, and for five days we prepare. Anyone who's logical will understand that, that's not a positive but I think there is enough talent in the group to get through the Federation Cup and have a very good I-League showing," said Papas.
Dempo SC played their first pre-season friendly against Salgaocar FC which ended in a goalless stalemate at the Duler football stadium in Mapusa, Goa, on Friday.
"This year, you can see the benefit of having a team for the second year because there are a lot of positives from this first game considering that it's our very first practice match of the pre-season.
"I'm overall very happy. I'm not too concerned about the result at this stage, although winning is important. I'm more concerned about the conditioning levels which I think look very good. For the majority [of the game], we kept up to the intensity that we wanted to play at. We want to play a much quicker brand of football this year.
"The squad has a lot more mobility and balance compared to the one we inherited last season," he concluded.
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