An injury-time penalty by substitute Pedro Gonsalves won Dempo Sports Club the Goa Football Association’s Goa Professional League title on Friday.

The defending champions had to win today’s match against FC Goa Developmental team at Tilak stadium, Vasco as Sporting Clube de Goa and Salgaocar FC were also in contention with their respective matches being played simultaneously at Duler and Old Goa.

The ProLeague ‘super league’ encounter was heading towards a goalless draw when after the 90+1 minutes, Pedro shouldered the tremendous weight of expectations, and scored under huge pressure in the injury time of the last match of the state league 2022-23 season.

Earlier, Dempo seemed to be enduring a similar story like in the last two outings as they created ample chances, but could not convert them. The last-gasp victory, however, ensured that Dempo topped the table with 30 points. Dempo Group chairman Shrinivas Dempo was present for the match and expressed his joy by tweeting “we are the champions”, soon after the final whistle.

Dempo Sports Club coach Samir Naik highlighted chairman Shrinivas Dempo’s visit as a huge encouragement to the boys.

“The boys played their heart out today. The Chairman himself came into the dressing room for the first time in six years. It was an added energy-booster for the boys,” said the former India International and Dempo defender turned coach.

Dempo Sports Club have faced striking agony of late and it was a similar tale today until Pedro’s super-sub display.

“Initially in the first 20 minutes, we were not up to the mark, but we improved after that. We created chances, but missed to take them. However, I trusted my boys that they will score when we need the goal. Pedro took a very good penalty kick,” added Samir, who revealed that the team will have a light training session in view of the Second Division I-League match at home against visiting Ambernath Atlanta on April 2 in what will be their third game inside five days of a punishing schedule.

Meanwhile, at Duler Stadium-Mapusa, Sporting Clube de Goa trounced Churchill Brothers FC Goa 3-0 to take their final points tally to 29 to end as runners-up; while Salgaocar FC cruised past Calangute Association 3-1 at Ela, Old Goa, and finished third with 28 points.

GFA President Dr. Caitano Fernandes congratulated Dempo SC for defending their title and said, “They had an amazing season, and the title reflects their journey. Congratulations to their club president Shrinivas Dempo and coach Samir Naik and the entire team. We would like to wish them good luck in their Second Division League campaign now.”


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