Top scorers face-off as Churchill Brothers hosts East Bengal

A win on Thursday is destined to take either of Churchill Brothers or East Bengal into second place in the I-League and within touching distance of league leader Chennai City FC.

Willis Plaza has scored seven goals in his last five matches for Churchill Brothers in the I-League. (FILE IMAGE)   -  Special Arrangement

In what will be a battle pitting the I-League’s top goal scorers Willis Plaza and Jobby Justin against each other, Goa’s Churchill Brothers takes on Kolkata’s East Bengal on Thursday at the Tilak Maidan in Vasco Da Gama.

Trinidadian Plaza has scored seven times for Churchill this season to be on top of the goal-scorers chart, while East Bengal’s Justin is second with five goals to his name.

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The two-time former champion has 13 points from eight games so far while East Bengal has 12 from seven and is fourth and sixth on the points table, respectively.

A win on Thursday is destined to take either of them into second place and within touching distance of league leader Chennai City, which has 18 points from eight completed games.

The visitor will be the more confident side going into the game having beaten arch-rival Mohun Bagan in its previous game, while the host suffered its first defeat of the season in its last encounter against Neroca FC.

Fluent in attack

Churchill has otherwise been fluent over the past month or so and has been profilic at the Tilak Maidan, scoring eight goals in the two games there so far. Besides, Plaza, Gambian winger Dawda Cessay, midfielder Khalid Aucho and right winger Israel Gurung have put in very good performances.

Its defense has let in eight goals and Romanian coach Petra Gigiu will be hoping the backline does not suffer more given injuries.

He was circumspect on the prospects ahead of the game, revealing, “East Bengal is a very strong team and at the same time some of our players will be absent like Hussien Eldor and Wayne Vaz. We hope to play well and score one goal more than the opponents.”

Jobby Justin scored and assisted a goal in East Bengal's win over Mohun Bagan.   -  I-league

 

For the Red and Golds, it should be all about maintaining the momentum. The derby win is sure to boost the confidence of the side but Spanish coach Alejandro Menendez Garcia will have his task cut out to ensure players are in full flow after the high of a win against arch rival Mohun Bagan.

Leaky defence

East Bengal has scored 14 times in its seven games and with Jobby Justin in full flow, coach Garcia’s main worry will also be to ensure he gets the defensive combination right. It has let in 10 goals so far and with Churchill’s goal-savy forward line, it could ill afford lapses.

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“Chuchill are playing well, especially the attacking game. It might be difficult for us. All games are equally important and we will expect our team to win this match,” said Alejandro. “We will try to follow our own style, the way we are working. Plaza is a special player in the box and we have to play an extra player in that area, so that he cannot score.”

Garcia will also not have the services of Salam Ranjan in defence, as he is on national duty and Costa Rican World Cupper Johny Acosta will have to be at the top of his game, given the profile and importance of the match.