Still smarting from their shock defeat to Indian Arrows, Churchill Brothers will look to bring their campaign back on track when they host the undefeated East Bengal in an I-League fixture in Goa on Saturday.
Churchill Brothers, who are placed fourth in the table, faced their first defeat of the tournament in their last encounter against Arrows, owing to a major defensive lapse.
The Red Machines will look to bounce back in their first match of the New year.
“We showed a poor image of our team in our last game. We can do much better. We must do better as a team playing without the ball,” said Bernardo Tavares, head coach, Churchill Brothers.
“We gave too much space to them (Arrows) to play and they got confidence and believed that they can draw because we could not score the second goal to kill the result of the game.”
Tavares asked his team to quickly get over the loss and ensure there is no let-up in intensity in the coming matches.
“We had got 19 shots on target against 7 shots by our opponents, they scored 2 goals in two mistakes from us. If we want to win games and get 3 points, we cannot sit back and must try to score quickly,” he said.
“I want to forget the last game as an accident and we can’t let this happen again in the future.”
Speaking about their opponents East Bengal, Tavares said, “I have already analysed their four games in the I-League. Their Spanish players are good but others are also good. So we need to see them as a strong unit.
“If we want to have a good game against them, we cannot make the same mistakes that we did in the last game because East Bengal are a better team. We must be sharper with as well as without the ball, transitions and in the set pieces.”
East Bengal, on the other hand, are the only undefeated team in the league and have been in fine form.
After the initial two draws against Real Kashmir FC and Punjab FC, the Red and Gold outfit ran riot against Neroca FC to win 4-1 win before recording a 2-1 victory over TRAU FC.
East Bengal will be playing their first match since December 14 and coach Alejandro Menendez looked confident ahead of their clash against Churchill Brothers.
“I think the team is high on confidence, good results have helped the same and we are working really well together as a team. We will face the game with optimism and are motivated to keep continuing the work we have been doing,” he said.
Although Churchill Brothers were at the receiving end against Indian Arrows, Menendez warned his boys to not take them lightly.
“Churchill Brothers are a threatening side and even if they did not win the last game, I am sure they will be very motivated to play against us,” he said.
“They will play at home, they know we are in good shape, we will not have the surprise factor as Arrows had. I understand we need to be very sharp in defence and in the attack. If we are not able to perform at a high level, it will be tough to get 3 points.
Aizawl test for Gokulam Kerala test
Gokulam Kerala FC, who played their last match on December 16, will host sixth-placed Aizawl FC in Kozhikode on Saturday.
A win for either side can propel them to the league summit albeit temporarily depending on Minerva, East Bengal and Churchill Brothers’ results.
Gokulam Kerala FC will be glad to have Andre Ettienne back in defensive after a one-game suspension. It is safe to say that the Kerala outfit felt his absence as they went down 2-1 against Mohun Bagan in Kalyani before the long break.
Speaking before the match, Gokulam Kerala FC head coach, Fernando Andres Santiago Varela, said, “The team has a great mentality, strength of overcoming and character, these factors make us strong and we will feel it on the pitch.
“While we made some mistakes against Mohun Bagan, we also had many options to tie and made a very good second half. We have high morale because we defend and we will always defend our style of play to make the people of Kerala proud of us.”
Aizawl FC, who have played two matches more than the home team, have a win and three draws to their name, which has kept them in the race.
They have been scoring goals but it seems the team’s defence has often let them down.
Youngsters like William Lalnunfela and Rochharzela have led the attacking unit from the front and have been amongst the goals. The challenge, though, in front of Aizawl gaffer Stanley Rozario will be to find a way to not concede goals.
Aizawl FC head coach Stanley Rozario looked confident before the match.
He said, “In the last three matches that we have played at home, we have drawn all of them. It is unfortunate that in spite of creating so many chances we couldn’t finish the game.
“I believe we need a little bit of luck, the match against Punjab would have ended in our favour if the last-minute handball wasn’t given. But you can’t do much about it, we have to respect the decision.”
He also stressed that he is really happy with the performance of his players and said, “Overall I am happy with the performance of my players (6 points in 5 matches) but we have to win the upcoming matches to move upwards in the points table.
“I want my players to go with a winning mentality and show character and commitment.
TRAU host Punjab FC
Tiddim Road Athletic Union (TRAU) FC will host Punjab FC in the I-League at the Khuman Lumpak Stadium in Imphal on Saturday.
TRAU have had a tough I-League debut, struggling in the bottom of the table after four fixtures.
They registered their solitary point against Real Kashmir FC in their previous match, where the Imphal outfit displayed great character to come back from a goal down to score twice in a space of four minutes, only to be denied all three points by a Mason Robertson equaliser.
They displayed the same resilience against East Bengal, where they almost earned a point away from home at the Kalyani, but Marti Crespi scored an 89th-minute winner to spoil their party.
If those performances are anything to go by, TRAU FC do have some upsets in store in their arsenal and going by their recent resurgence, Punjab FC could be in for a tricky away outing in Imphal.
Captain of TRAU FC, Princewill Emeka spoke about the previous results and mindset in the team.
“It’s a difficult situation for us, and we all know that. We’ve set out lot of plans to overturn the situation but only victory can do that for us. We need nothing less than three points in our upcoming games.”
Punjab FC struggled away from home in their last match against Aizawl FC but were awarded a penalty deep into stoppage time, which was converted by Sergio Barboza junior.
The Ludhiana outfit, however, still remain one of the contenders for the coveted crown, and sit in second place, with goal difference separating them from the summit.
Punjab FC head coach Yan Law Punjab FC has already earned his reputation in the league with the sublime win against Chennai City FC and by using Dipanda Dicka in a completely new role.
“The boys have been doing well so far and we are in good momentum now. Second in the table is very good considering the bad start to our campaign.
“We are scoring many goals and also conceding unnecessary ones. We are working on strengthening our team defending so that it does not cost us valuable points as we are surely title contender.
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