Former champions Aizawl FC would look to snap a string of draws while Churchill Brothers would aim to jump to the top of the 2019-’20 I-League table when the two sides take on each other in Aizawl on Wednesday.
Aizawl, who are currently placed sixth on the table with six points from six games, have drawn all their previous three matches and they would look to notch up their first win after their victory against Indian Arrows on December 9.
In their last match against Gokulam Kerala, a 10-man Aizawl showed tremendous resilience to salvage a 1-1 draw away from home at Kozhikode.
The match did not only reflect the robustness of the defensive line led by Kassaga but also showed that Aizawl are not an easy opponent to break down.
Speaking ahead of Wednesday’s match, Aizawl head coach Stanley Rozario said, “It was a very tough away fixture against Gokulam, as we played with 10 men for more than 70 minutes. Our players showed the fighting spirit, courage, character and commitment on the pitch and drew the match 1-1.
“In the last three matches, we have been giving away easy penalties and this is the big worrying part now and I am working on it. Our players have to be more cautious and not to repeat the same mistakes.”
Regarding their opponents, Rozario said, “Churchill Brothers are tough opponents and they are in good form and coming with high motivation after defeating East Bengal in Goa. They have the players like Willis Plaza, Lalkhawpuimawia and Alhassan who can put pressure on any opponent.
“But, we have a plan to stop them and my players are ready to take the challenge.”
Churchill Brothers will be entering the match on a high having just lost a game on their way to Aizawl. They are now at second spot with nine points from four matches, behind Mohun Bagan, who have 10 points from five games.
Willis Plaza has been the indomitable leader of the pack and Kalif Alhassan has beautifully fit into the shoes of Dawda Ceesay who has been missing from the line up due to an injury.
The consistency of Israil Gurung in delivering inch-perfect balls into the box has been another advantage for the team which eventually won the match for the Red Machines against East Bengal.
Head coach Bernardo Tavares said, “In football, there will always be pressure. Hero I-League has just started now and surely, all the teams are going to lose points in the future.
“We must try to win the next match and try to be in the top half of the table, but the most important for thing for us is to be on top of the table when the league is over.”
Speaking about their opponents, he said, “They won 2-1 against Churchill Brothers last season. This season, they have already played at home against Mohun Bagan, Chennai City and Punjab and they did not lose any game. They are a very strong team at home and the artificial turf will give them an edge because we are used to playing on natural turf.”
“They fight very hard when they don’t have the ball. They have good players and they are a good team. They just lost one game away until now in the league. If we want to win this team we must be better at fighting for the ball.