I-League: Churchill Brothers eyes pole position in Shillong

Second-placed Churchill Brothers will look to pip Chennai City FC for the top spot in the I-League table when it faces Shillong Lajong on Tuesday.

Churchill Brothers is currently second in the I-League with 29 points from 15 games.   -  I-League

Two-time champion Churchill Brothers, needs a win against bottom-placed Shillong Lajong on Tuesday, to climb atop the Hero I-League standings and lay down the gauntlet for league leader Chennai City FC.

The Goan side hammered Shillong 4-2 in the first leg fixture at the Tilak Maidan, which was a representation of the teams' performances this season. Churchill has been relentless in attack and are backed by quality finishing by Willis Plaza. For Tuesday's host, inability to put away its chances has been its biggest problem this season.

League top scorer Willis Plaza of Trinidad & Tobago netted three of his 16 goals this campaign in the first leg against Shillong and will remain the primary threat to Alison Kharsyntiew’s talented side. Gambian winger Dawda Cessay’s form is also an added threat to the home side.

Churchill coach Petre Gigiu, speaking to the press on matchday eve, emphasised on the fact that relegation-threatened Lajong will be up for a fight. "Tomorrow I think it will be a very difficult game for both of us as Shillong will be playing for not getting relegated and we will be playing for the Championship and the best team has to win," he said.

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"Surprised to see Shillong in this position as they are a very good team. They play very good football. This team may go up. If we win tomorrow we hope for the Championship or the second position, but if we lose tomorrow, we are not under pressure. The pressure is on Shillong to win.”

Lajong goes into the game with confidence, having won away against defending champion Minerva. Naorem Mahesh Singh, another talented winger, found his scoring touch after a two-goal blitz in the early stages of the league.

Alison was forthright with his views in the pre-game presser, stating, “From the beginning, I have been positive for the young players. I try to help them improve in every match and also for their future. Everyone is working hard. We are going step by step. We are learning from our past matches. Churchill is a good team with a good coach," he said.

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"Tomorrow we can stop them if we can do well in defense and hit them on the counter. For us, we have to score goals not conceded goals," said Alison.

Lajong will also take heart from their eye-catching attacking display against the same opponent away to try and upset Churchill hopes. Churchill will know that the top spot is not secured till its won against Shillong.

The game between Churchill Brothers and Shillong Lajong kicks-off at 5 pm IST, Tuesday, in Shillong’s JLN Nehru Stadium.

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