AFC Champions League: Team Dempo heads to Qatar

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Panaji, Feb 17 (PTI) Dempo Sports Club has headed toQatar for what promises to be a tough encounter against thehost city''s Al Sadd Club in the AFC Champions League onFebruary 19.

The team left for Qatar last evening. Anthony Pereira andValeriano Rebelo who are nursing injuries have not accompaniedthe team.

Armando knows that it will be a difficult task to defeattheir opponents, who beat Syria''s Al Ittihad 5-1 win lastweek.

"Definitely, it will be a tough job. Qualifying for theAsian Champions League would give me the greatest satisfactionin my career. It would be a dream come true for us.

"But the manner our boys played against ChurchillBrothers in the I-League which we won 2-0 few days ago, giveme hope that we can match our rivals. If we win it would be adream come true for us," said coach Armando Colaco.

"The standard of Qatar Stars League is higher than oursbut we will give a strong fight. Al Sadd is a good team withsome notable players in their squad. The return of our sixplayers who did duties for India in the Asian Cup at Qatarwill further strengthen the team, their experience of havingbeen there would certainly be of help to us," he added.

This is the second time that the Goan outfit will vie fora place in the AFC Champions League where top teams fromJapan, South Korea, Iran, Iraq, and Uzbekistan are jostlingfor continental supremacy.

However, the Indian champions will have to play away fromhome in the single-leg tie to decide which team will progressfor the main draw and Colaco is concerned about the AFC''schoice on one match play-off.

Colaco has written to the AFC about his suggestion thatin future instead of having a play-off, it would be better ifthere was a home and away fixture which will give the twoteams an equal opportunity to make it into the group stages ofthe elite competition.

"I hope it works that way (home and away) in the futureand I had written on this to the AFC. No matter what happensour standard will rise when we play stronger teams. If wequalify, we shall play the top most clubs in Asia and thatwould certainly give a big boost to our confidence," Colacostated.

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