The prestige of Federation Cup champions Dempo will be at stake when they take on Al-Ahed club of Lebanon in their return Group 'B' league match of the Asian Football Confederation Cup at Nehru stadium in Margao on Wednesday.
With just one team qualifying for the next round of the competition, Jordan's Al Hussein are in the driver's seat having logged a maximum of nine points from three games, while Al-Ahed, who beat Dempo but lost to Al Hussein, have three points and still have a chance to qualify if they win on the morrow.
For Dempo, who have lost all their three encounters, the match is inconsequential, but they can redeem some pride by winning the contest.
The team is treating it as preparation for the crucial National Football League tie against East Bengal, slated for May 16 at Kolkata, as winning that match will give them a bright chance of winning the coveted title.
"It's going to be a good game tomorrow and we will play for prestige, no matter what the result is. It is going to be a learning experience for our team to play better next time," Dempo coach Armando Colaco said.
According to the coach, striker R C Prakash, mid-fielders Riston Rodrigues, Nacimento Silveira, defenders Melvin Rodriuges and Valariano Rebello would be rested ahead of the crucial NFL tie while strikers Ishfaq Ahmed, Jayasuriya Kasun and defender Pio Rodrigues will be given a chance to play.
Jose Colaco, who has recovered from an injury, will also play while Sameer Naik would be tried in the last ten minutes, Colaco said.
Al-Ahed, who beat Dempo through a controversial goal at home, arrived in Goa on Tuesday morning and would be fielding the same side that played against the Goans in the earlier game.
With two foreigners and four international players, the Lebanese look quite a strong side.
Armenian striker Armen Halgedian would be the key man who plays as a withdrawn striker and does most of the scheming, Colaco said adding, their other foreigner, goalkeeper Abu Bakerr Bah, is also a "tough nut to crack. His save of Bolaji in the first leg was fantastic."
Al-Ahed, ranked third in their domestic league, were certainly looking for a win by a bigger margin as it would give them a chance to advance to the next round with a match against Al Hussein in hand.
Al-Ahed's new coach Jamal Ali al Haj was confident of victory. He said his opponents were a good side but lacked experience.
"It's going to be a good contest and hopefully we win against them which will help us to be in the hunt for the next round," Jamal added. The teams:
Dempo: Abhijit Mondal, Stanley Colaco, Pio Rodrigues, Bolaji Majeck, Raju Singh, Mario Soares, Clifford Miranda, Jose Colaco, Ranty Martins, Ishfaq Ahmed and Jayasuriya Kasun.
Substitutes: Johnny D'Cruz, Satish Kumar, Dominic Noronha and R C Prakash.
Al-Ahed: Abu Bakerr Bah, Armen Shahgeldyan, Bassem Ali Maram, Hassan Ali Maatouk, Youssef Ali Salman, Ahmad Khaliki Trad, Essam Ghaleb Ayoub, Hassan Hassaan Mezher, Abbas Hassan Khalifeh, Jamal Hassan Khalifeh, Oussama Hassan Haidar, Abbas Abdou Kenaan, Ghoulam Nizar Ghadar, Riyadh Qassem al Qubeissi, Bilal Mohammad Hachem, Mohamad Hassan Hammoud and Hassan Neame Nassrallah.