I-League: Smarting Churchill Brothers braces up for Gokulam Kerala challenge

Churchill aims to resurrect its campaign with a win on Sunday, after having registered two losses and a draw in its last three matches.

GOKULAM KERALA

Gokulam Kerala is placed seventh with 19 points from 14 games and in order to end up among the top five, it will have to win at least four of its five encounters.   -  AIFF MEDIA

Churchill Brothers returns to its base for its I-League contest against Gokulam Kerala here on Sunday, bidding to resurrect its campaign after having gone three matches without a win.

Churchill is currently placed fourth in the points table, with 20 points from 14 games. It still has six games to play and if all goes well, can muster a total of 38 points. Gokulam Kerala is placed seventh with 19 points from 14 games and in order to end up among the top five, it will have to win at least four of its five encounters.

Churchill is coming into the contest after a shock defeat at the hands of TRAU FC, which severely dented its prospects of being crowned league champion for the third time. Churchill head coach Bernardo Tavares said, “Yes, the loss against TRAU was a little unnerving but I believe we are only to blame for it. We weren’t able to create enough goal-scoring chances when we should have. TRAU was disciplined and pretty hard to breakdown on the night.”

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“If we dwell too deep into the equation we will not able to concentrate on the match and I believe we should just have one goal — that is to win all the remaining matches and hope that the rest of the events turn out to be in our favour,” he added.

Gokulam Kerala, on the other hand, played out a hard-fought 1-1 draw against East Bengal. The result, though, camouflages the damage done during that contest. The Malabarians will be missing the services of Haroon Amiri and Naocha Singh, who were sent off in the match after receiving yellow cards.

Captain Marcus Joseph, the highest scorer from the team, said, “It has been a difficult season for us. When the league started, we were in tremendous form, but some close matches have really cost us. We are missing two of our mainstays in the defence line-up against Churchill and it always unsettles a settled line-up.”

TRAU poised for tricky clash against Indian Arrows

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Igor Stimac conducted a training session for Indian Arrows at the Cooperage Stadium on March 6.

 

TRAU FC will look to stay clear of the relegation zone with a win over a rejuvenated Indian Arrows side in the other I-League match on Sunday.

TRAU is four points clear of NEROCA (10th place) but has played a game more than its city rival and has a tough run ahead, starting with an away trip to Srinagar next.

TRAU skipper Princewill Emeka said that his team did not have any fear of slipping down to the relegation zone.

“We consider every opponent to be equally tough. There are not many games left, so we have to ensure that we collect as many points as we can,” he said.

“The Arrows are always a threat. They will pounce on any mistake you make. They keep running until the last minute of the game, so we have to be alert. We won the reverse fixture against them 2-0 and it was not easy at all.”

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On the other dugout, the visitor will be bolstered by the inputs of India senior national team head coach Igor Stimac who conducted one of the Arrows’ training sessions in Mumbai.

Indian Arrows head coach Venkatesh Shanmugam said, “The boys were taken aback by the pleasant surprise.”

Stimac has watched Indian Arrows’ last three home matches at the Cooperage Stadium in Mumbai -- against East Bengal (1-3), Chennai City FC (0-2) and Punjab FC (1-1).

“It was a nice gesture from the national team coach which has never happened before. He watched our matches in Mumbai and expressed his desire to attend our training sessions. He himself prepared the training regime and primarily focused on our attacking aspects,” Venkatesh added.

On the challenge that lies ahead on Sunday, Venkatesh said, “The team put on a great display against Punjab FC in the previous match. We hope to carry on the good work against TRAU, who are undoubtedly a very strong team and will be a tough opponent on their own turf."

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