Four-time champions Dempo will be the underdogs when they kick-start their I-League campaign against defending champions Salgaocar at the Nehru Stadium in Fatorda, Margao, on Saturday.
Dempo, after losing their playmaker Beto to Churchill Brothers, did not get the right start this season as they bowed out of the Federation Cup losing to East Bengal on account of a controversial goal which saw them skip the Durand Cup.
Coach Armando Colaco returns to the club after being the interim coach of the national team and said the side will aim to get the early momentum.
"We are going in as underdogs as we haven't got the right start and the players are rusty as they need to play a couple of matches before settling down. We have never got a good start in the past and will be looking for a win tomorrow to get the early momentum going," stated Colaco.
"Every team in the I-League is playing for the title. I always want to save ourselves from relegation first and then we take each game at a time."
"On the other hand, Salgaocar started the season brightly winning the Federation Cup which have lifted their morale. We have to play to our potential for a win," summed up Colaco.
Dempo will lack creativity in the midfield in the absence of Beto and it will take some time before newcomer Densill Tabaldo from Trinidad and Tobago settles down with the team.
Ranty Martins, along with Koko Saikibo, will lead from the front and will be ably supported by Climax Lawrence, Clifford Lawrence, Anthony Pereira and Densill Theobald.
Salgaocar, who started their new season with a bang by winning the Federation Cup beating East Bengal 3-1 in the final, lost the momentum as they bowed out of the Durand Cup losing to Prayag United in the semifinals. They faced another setback when they lost to East Bengal in the Super Cup.
In the Pro-League, they drew against lowly Margao SC and Vasco but that will not bother coach Karim Bencherifa who will be looking to start well.
There are no injury concerns as all their players are fit.
Chidi, who played outstandingly in the Federation Cup, is their key man upfront along with Ryuji Sueoka. They have a good midfield to support them with Francis Fernandes and Gilbert Oliveira playing well on the flanks. Karanjit Singh, who has been outstanding under the bar, will be a key player.