Club legend Samir Naik has enjoyed an 18-year tenure as a player at Dempo Sports Club and will now lead the Golden Eagles as the head coach in his first official game.
The 38-year-old will be leading Dempo against former Sporting Clube de Goa gaffer Alex Alvares-coached Calangute Association in the opener of first AWES Cup at the Duler stadium in Goa, organised by the Association for the Wellbeing of Elder Sportspersons (AWES).
Naik, also a member of the AWES committee, served as an assistant to former head coach Mauricio Afonso at the club for the past two years and has recently answered his AFC (Asian Football Confederation) 'A' License Coaching Certificate examination in Kolkata. With Afonso's health not permitting him to continue coaching, it was in July this year that Naik was named as his successor.
"This is my first ever game in charge of a senior team. I have learnt a lot from all my previous coaches whom I have played and worked under. In modern day football, coaching is a tough job, but I am looking forward to sharing my experience and knowledge with this young Dempo side and I am hopeful we will stay true to the Dempo style of attacking possession football,” said the former India skipper.
Dempo has retained players such as Joaquim Abranches, Beevan D'Mello and Taison Caiado alongside whom Samik Naik spent his playing days at the club. ONGC FC makes the third team in the same group while teams like Salgaocar FC, Sporting Clube de Goa are also part of the competition besides developmental squads of Indian Super League (ISL) outfits FC Goa and FC Pune City.
After joining Dempo from FC Siolim in 1999, Samir Naik has won five National Football League (NFL)/I-League titles and was part of the squad that made it to the semi-finals of the AFC Cup in 2008. In his international career (2002-2012), he debuted under Stephen Constantine in the Englishman's previous stint, also featuring in the 2011 AFC Asian Cup squad.
Meanwhile, a few other former Dempo greats will also feature in the dug-outs as coaches of other clubs in the AWES Cup. Clifford Miranda is the assistant coach of FC Goa's developmental squad while Armando Colaco is assisted by Climax Lawrence at FC Bardez.