I-League: Churchill Brothers start favourites at home against Minerva Punjab

When the two teams met in the initial stages of the league two months ago, they played out a drab goalless draw and it was evident that a new team management was trying to find its footings.

Willis Plaza has been in imperious form this year, scoring nine goals so far. (File Photo)   -  Biswaranjan Rout

Churchill Brothers FC takes on reigning champions Minerva Punjab in the I-League on Saturday, with the host entering the game as clear favourites on the back of its impressive attacking display in recent weeks.

When the two teams met in the initial stages of the league two months ago, they played out a drab goalless draw and it was evident that a new team management was trying to find its footings.

Much water has flown under the bridge since then, with the Goans establishing themselves as the most enterprising side of the league after leaders Chennai.

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While Churchill has scored 17 goals and conceded 10 in its 10 games so far, Minerva has scored just six and conceded as many from the same number of games (10).

Willis Plaza for Churchill has been in imperious form this year, scoring nine goals so far, to lead the scorer’s charts.

But it is the support play of Dawda Cessay, Israel Gurung, Anthony Wolfe and the likes that have clearly helped them improve so much over last year.

Romanian coach Petre Gigiu, however, sounded a note of caution on the match eve saying, “Minerva is a good team and it will be difficult for us.”

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Alluding to his missing injured players like key defenders Hussein Eldor and Wayne Vaz, the coach said, “Our team is not complete yet. Players have not returned yet. It will be very difficult for us to win, but we will try.”

Irishman Paul Munster, the Minerva coach who came on board this season, on the other hand, has tried several players and combinations along the campaign but has still not managed to find a way to get goals coming his way.

“Players have a plan and know what to expect. We will be trying to work on their weaknesses. Obviously, we have played them and they are a good team. Especially with their attacking players, they will cause a threat,” he said in the pre-game chat.