AWES Cup set to kick off with Dempo locking horns against FC Goa
Written by: AWES Cup
This will be the second season of the tournament.
After the success of the inaugural 12 team tournament at Duler last season, the second edition of the tournament will feature star ISL players like Emiliano Alfaro and Marcelinho who are expected to play for FC Pune City this year. I-League side Gokulam FC, who were finalists last season after losing to Dempo SC via the penalty shoot-out, will also be playing in the tournament along with ONGC. Local powerhouses Dempo SC, Salgaocar FC, Sporting Clube de Goa, FC Goa Development squad and Sesa FA will complete the eight-team roster.
The tournament will be held in a group cum knockout format with the eight teams being divided into two groups of four teams each. The top two teams from each group will qualify for the semi-finals.
Last season’s Indian Super League semi-finalists, FC Pune City who participated in the tournament last year with their development squad have opted to play the tournament this year with their first team squad in preparation for the fifth edition of the ISL which kicks off on 29th September. The team has retained the services of Brazilian playmaker Marcelinho, his fellow countryman Diego and Uruguayan Emiliano Alfaro, who were all stand out performers last season. They have also added ISL’s highest goal scorer Iain Hume, to their squad this year. Local lads Adil Khan, Keenan Almeida and Gabriel Fernandes will add to the Goan connect.
Last season’s finalists Gokulam FC from Kerala will have a new look side as they prepare for yet another season in the I-League. After languishing at the bottom for the most of last season, a stunning revival towards the end of the I-League saw them finish a respectable seventh. Coach Bino George has been promoted as Technical Director. With the signings of Argentinian centre-back Fabricio Ortiz and Uzbek defender Evgeniy Kochnev, the team from Kerala will be hoping that the second AWES Cup serves as a perfect preparation before the start of the I-League.
Defending Mumbai District Football Association (MDFA) League winners ONGC too will be no pushovers with reports that the team may rope in two new foreigners for the tournament. ONGC last season gave a good account of themselves narrowly losing to Calangute Association and Dempo SC in their group matches.
These are troubled times for Goan football. After the withdrawal of Sporting Clube de Goa, Salgaocar FC and Dempo SC from the I-League, Goa’s lone representative Churchill Brothers SC were also relegated last season. However, this is one tournament that would provide the Goan clubs an opportunity to rub shoulders and test themselves against the best in India. After having retained the core of their team, Dempo SC would look to defend their title with a mix of experienced players and some youngsters from their youth development programmes. Salgaocar SC have also opted to go with youth this season and would look to give the bigger clubs a run for their money. Sporting Clube de Goa look a strong team on paper after completing a domestic double last year winning the Goa League and the Police Cup. They have retained the same team as last season and would be one of the stronger sides along with the FC Goa development squad who now have the cream of young talent in Goa. The Clifford Miranda coached side have signed some exciting young players like Kapil Hoble and Nestor Dias in addition to retaining most of their players from last season.
Sesa Football Academy will make their debut in the AWES Cup this year with their young team hoping to use this experience as a learning curve for tougher challenges in the future.
Published: Mon Aug 27, 2018 06:09 PM IST