On a roll after a three-match winning streak, Churchill Brothers face Neroca FC in a crucial I-League return-leg match on Saturday in Vasco.
After losing to East Bengal, Churchill have notched up three wins on the trot that took them to the second spot in the league table with 22 points from 12 matches.
Churchill are five points adrift from leaders Chennai City FC (27 from 12 matches) and they would want to collect as many points as possible in the remaining eight matches to have a shot at the title.
In that context, Saturday’s match at Tilak Maidan is crucial as Neroca, currently fourth with 21 points from 12 matches, are also in contention for the title.
In the the first-leg fixture in Imphal on December 15, Neroca rode on Katsumi Yusa’s brace to beat Churchill but the Goan side have regrouped since then.
Neroca will count on their in-form striker Willis Plaza to steer them to a win. Plaza, with 11 goals, is the joint highest scorer in the league with Chennai’s Pedro Manzi.
“It is a difficult game. Neroca is a strong side and they have many good players. They have an organised team. Defence and attack are good. We will try not to make mistakes we have made earlier. The three points are very important for us and we will be playing to win,” said Churchill’s Romanian coach Petra Gigiu.
Neroca lost their previous game – their third defeat of the season – against Mohun Bagan and will be desperate to get back to winning ways.
Their Spanish coach Manuel Fraile said, “The pressure is on Churchill. We should give our best and win the game. It will be a difficult game. We will try to be the champions. We will stick to our game plan and my team is ready.”