Papas: Dempo played with an extra man at the back

The Australian coach acknowledged that it was difficult for East Bengal to play as a team as they hadn’t trained together for three months or so…

Dempo SC registered a 1-0 victory over East Bengal in their opening group A game of the Federation Cup and coach Arthur Papas believes that they would like to focus one match at a time instead of setting a target from the onset.

“(Want to focus on) One game at a time. We have had four days together as a squad. We focused and prepared for this game and enjoyed it. We think for the next game and don’t think further,” said Papas.

Romeo Fernandes scored the only goal of the game after having shined in the Indian Super League (ISL) for FC Goa. On being asked if the players who plied their trade in the ISL helped his side win their tie on Monday evening following their exploits with FC Goa, Papas said, “We didn’t win easily. East Bengal are a very good and experienced team with their full quota of foreigners. I’m just proud of my players. They had to still show up and perform no matter what happened in the past. They were fantastic today and that’s all that matters. It was a fantastic team performance.”

The former Pailan Arrows coach explained the two reasons as to why he chose to play three at the back.

“We played a different system to last year. We changed our formation due to the availability of players. We had a season ending injury to Narayan Das as well as Pranoy Halder, who is out for the whole season. Debabrata Roy can’t play this tournament due to injury and we missed Peter Carvalho.

We knew the opposition were strong with Ranti Martins and Dudu Omagbemi. So instead of  two in the middle of the park, we played with three in the middle of defense. We defended with an extra man at the back and for me this is the reason we defended so well today,” he said.

Speaking on East Bengal, he remarked that although they are a good side not having spent enough time training together could have hurt the Kolkata giants.

“They were a quality team. I don’t have anything else to say about the opposition. They tested us very well in the second half. They came close to equalizing but at the end my boys showed a lot of unity and spirit and worked very hard. We missed many chances but we had a fantastic result at the end of the game.  

“I’m more concerned about the performances of my team. Both teams haven’t had a lot of time together. I’m sure the coach (Armando Colaco) on the other side has a lot of difficulty in ensuring his team play as a side again. Not having you team together for three months is difficult. I’m sure given time, that quality in the team will come good. But for now, all I’m concerned with is my team winning and I’m happy for our chairman (Shrinivas Dempo) as he’s an excellent person and this win means a lot to him.  My team’s performance is all that matters and it’s a small step as we need to spend more time together,” he mentioned.

Papas opined that the game was decided by tactics and not by the difference in fitness of the two teams.

“The score is irrelevant. The result means we win the game. It was important to win today. It’s impossible to tell who looks fitter. Both teams have had three months apart, with some players playing and some not. It’s not a case of who was fitter but it was a tactical one,” he stated.