Margao:Dempo's campaign in the AFC Cup took off on a bright note as they held on gamely to a Ranty Martin's first half strike to down Syrian club Al Maged 1-0 in the Group E league match at the Nehru Stadium, on Tuesday.
Dempo, who started cautiously, played quick short passes and took the lead in the 24th minute.
The hosts were awarded a free-kick after defender Ali Al Rifaai brought down Clifford Miranda on top of the box.
Roberto Mendes' effort was deflected in to the far corner by Martins.
Stung by the goal, the visitors mounted pressure and pushed last year's AFC Cup semi-finalists into their own half. But the Dempo defence did well to thwart the visitors.
The nearest Al Maged came to scoring was in the 32nd minute when a lob from Dame Junior was headed by Abdulhadi-Al-Sharoua Ali Hariri, but goalkeeper Abhijit Mondal was alert to task.
The Syrian club started off well, testing the hosts with long passes and Hamzeh-Al-Aitouni longranger hitting the crossbar and going out.
The visitors saw more of the ball after the change of ends and tried to use the ariel route.
Despite their supremacy, the strikers failed to convert the chances. They were also done in by Mondal's good showing under the bar.
"My boys played according to the plan. All credit goes to the back four who defended admirably throughout the match and striker Peter Carvalho who played well up front," Dempo coach Armando Colaco said.
His counterpart was naturally dejected.
"We had most of the ball possession and scoring chances but our strikers failed to utilize the opportunities that came their way," a dejected Al Maged coach, Tahseen Jabbary, said.
Dempo now travel to Jordan to meet Al Failsay on March 17.
Referee Saleem Ali from Maldives showed yellow card to Al Maged's Sameer Aouad.