On a roll, table-toppers Mohun Bagan would look to settle scores when they take on Churchill Brothers in their return leg match of the I-League in Goa on Saturday.
The visitors from Kolkata have been on a roll this Hero I-League season, notching up nine wins from 12 games to comfortably lead the points table with 29 points, eight points clear of second-placed Minerva Punjab FC.
However, Bagan’s only loss this season came at the hands of Churchill, who outgunned the Green and Maroons in a high-scoring encounter in December last year in the early stages of the league at the Kalyani Stadium.
Speaking about Saturday’s encounter, Bagan’s Kibu Vicuna understandably tried to play down the talk.
“It is only a football match. We will face the game with the same desire as other games. We know that Churchill are a good team with very good players and playing in their stadium is going to be a tough challenge for us,” he said.
That desire has translated to five wins on the trot in recent times with an enviable five-man attack line of former La Liga and Senegalese striker Papa Diawara, VP Suhair, dynamic youngster Nongdamba Naorem, Tajik playmaker Komron Tursunov and Spanish midfield general Joseba Beitia, firing on all cylinders.
Vicuna, who was adjudged to be the manager of the month in January, seemed to be enjoying his team’s winning combination.
“Yes, the team, management, fans love it (winning). The players are also enjoying their performance and that’s important. Every game is equally important for us. Our performance against Neroca has given us more confidence and boys are focused to get another positive result tomorrow,” he said.
The leadership and scoring prowess of yet another Spaniard Fran Gonzalez, who has a league-leading nine goals under his belt so far, will surely give Churchill’s Portuguese coach Bernardo Tavares a sleepless night before they face the leaders on Saturday.
“It’s been a good run for us. The two wins against Aizawl and Kashmir have given us a lot of confidence, which we will take forward to our next game against Mohun Bagan. They are the league leaders for a reason, so it’s going to be a tough challenge for us,” Tavares said.
Churchill will go into the game on the back of two successive wins. They will also take heart from the fact that they have not been too much behind Bagan in the goal-scoring charts.