I-League: Aizawl hosts Churchill in first home game

In the I-League last season, defending champion Aizawl garnered 25 points form a possible 27 at the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium en route to a fantastic title triumph.

Aizawl FC scored six goals and conceded only two against Churchill Brothers last season, collecting maximum points against the Goan side.   -  Rajeev Bhatt

Defending I-League champion Aizawl FC will host Churchill Brothers in its first home fixture at its fortress RG Stadium in Aizawl on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, on its way to clinching the title, Aizawl FC scored six goals and conceded only two against Churchill Brothers last season, collecting maximum points against the Goan side.

Aizawl made a bad start to the season, having lost two of its opening matches against Shillong Lajong and Mohun Bagan. However, the team’s Portuguese coach Paul Menezes reiterated that it will try to retain its title and will fight for three points in every match.

Speaking at the pre-match press conference, Menezes said: “We will play the way we played in the Mizoram Premier League. Sometimes we have to defend we cannot attack the opponents all the time.”

He added: “Several key players have left us but I hope we can form a strong team this season. After collecting one point against East Bengal I expect three points against Churchill Brothers.

“Andrei is our focal point in attack and it is a good thing that he will be available against Churchill,” he said.

Key midfielder Alfred Jaryan said, “Last season was a great one and the fans played their part too. We will try to replicate last season’s form and will give our best in every game. We play for the club, fans and, most importantly, Mizoram.”

Meanwhile, Churchill, coached by Ukranian Mykola Shevchenko, is yet to score its first goal this season while conceding seven.

Shevchenko, who has turned out for Churchill during his playing day, is optimistic that his team will gain the much-needed confidence against the host.

He said: “We have lost two straight matches and I hope we can develop and change as a team tomorrow (Wednesday). We came with a new mindset hoping to regain our confidence. We are travelling a lot these days and this makes it harder for the player’s recovery but injuries are part and parcel of the game.”

Sikkimese Churchill forward Uttam Rai said, “I am having a lot of injuries these few months and its hard to cope with the mental effects but I have always worked hard for the team and I want to develop as a player.”

Churchill will want to leave Aizawl with flying colours as three points against Aizawl FC will lift it above the relegation zone. However, the Goan side has its task cut out as Aizawl garnered 25 points form a possible 27 last season at the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium en route to a fantastic title triumph.

The match is scheduled to kick-off at 02:00 PM and will be telecast on Star Sports 2, HD 2 and streamed live on Hotstar, Jio TV.

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