Monday, February 28, 2011

Dempo take on Yemen's Al Tilal in AFC Cup opener

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PUNE: I-League champions Dempo will hope to put together their four-season AFC Cup experience to good use when they take on Al Tilal of Yemen in their Group A match of Asia's second-tier club competition on Tuesday.

Dempo recently lost to Qatari giants Al Saad 0-2 in their AFC Champions League play-off and Armando Colaco's side would look to pick up from that experience when they open their AFC Cup campaign at Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex at Balewadi.

"Playing in Qatar has given us a great deal of experience and we will try to make the best use of that in this AFC Cup," Colaco said today at the pre-match press conference.

"It will be a good match although we are playing away from home in Pune. My boys are geared up for the first game under floodlights," he said, alluding to his side having to play their 'home' match here due to unavailability of Nehru Stadium in Margao.

Colaco also made it a point to say that the team has been enduring a tough schedule doing the balancing act between their I-League commitments ahead of the AFC Cup opener.

"Yes the schedule has been taxing. But this is part and parcel of professional football and we are prepared to put our best foot forward and dish out a good game," he said.

On featuring in the AFC Cup for fourth time, including reaching the semifinals in 2008, Colaco said, "We have reached one benchmark in the Cup. Yes the experience of playing several times holds us in good stead."

"This time we will try to raise the bar," he said. Meanwhile, skipper Ranty Martins was unperturbed by the fact that they are playing their 'home' match here.

"The situation could not be avoided and let's face the reality. I don't think the venue will make a big difference as we have played here before. We will try to make the best use of the conditions and emerge victor," said the Nigerian.

Al Tilal head coach Seyoum Kebede Eshetu said that this was the first time that he ever led the Yemen side at the AFC Cup.

"It will be a new experience. It will be a tough match considering the fact that Dempo are playing at 'home'. Dempo are a good side," he said, adding that he had watched the footage of the game Dempo played against Al Saad.

Source: The Time of India

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