Fatorda: Churchill Brothers FC hosts Mohun Bagan at the Nehru stadium in Fatorda today and the contest is expected to fan memories of football of yesteryears when teams from Goa and Kolkata tried to prove who the kingpins of the game were.
Mohun Bagan occupies the top slot of the I-League and a win against Churchill on fat Carnival will make their journey to the summit easier. Churchill Brothers FC, on the other hand, will need to win not only to arrest Mohun Bagan from racing away but keeping their hopes in sight.
Churchill Brothers started dramatically, slid in between and have been on a comeback trail since the last two home games with the boys from Goa shining amongst the rest and their display against Mohun Bagan will help measure how football in Goa is progressing after the exit of Dempo SC, Salgaocar FC and Sporting Clube de Goa from the I-League.
Glan Martin, Ponif Vaz, Quan Gomes and Jovel Martins have been the mainstay of the Churchill team under new coach Bernardo Tavares and the combination of the four against Mohun Bagan could leave fans in a balance of emotions.
Glan, despite his injury, has been the silent star so far. Ponif – who has recovered from injury – will bolster the wings and strap the defence whilst Jovel is expected to make playing from his flank difficult. With Quan assisting Glan in the midfield, Willis Plaza, Mapuia and Socrates will have a lot to answer for in the frontline.
Churchill Brothers FC has increased their game a few notches with the Goan boys being given time to express themselves and against Mohun Bagan – playing against a team from Kolkata is many a times the best catalyst for players from Goa – the sky could be the limit for football fans.
Coach Bernard has demonstrated that over dependence on a single player can be counterproductive and by allowing the rest in the team to have a better feel of the ball there has been a shift in the style of play and it has ended in two productive wins at home. A win against Mohun Bagan will allow Churchill Brothers to keep all their eggs in the pan.
Mohun Bagan is on 29 points, ten clear away from Churchill who is on 19. A win for Mohun Bagan will help them make the favourites, though Punjab FC who is on 21 points cannot be overruled at this stage of the tournament.
Churchill will be with a fighting chance of finishing amongst the top three if they manage to slide the visitors winning run. The win will not only help Churchill but will benefit Mohun Bagan rivals Punjab FC, their closest rivals for the title.
Churchill will definitely start with an advantage after having beaten Mohun Bagan 4-2 in their away game in December.
“It is only a football match. We will face the game with the same desire as other games. We know that Churchill is a good team with very good players and playing in their stadium is going to be a tough challenge for us,” Mohun Bagan coach Kibu Vicuna admitted during an interaction with the media.
Churchill is the only team to have beaten Mohun Bagan in the competition.
“We know that they are now a stronger team than the one we defeated because they have strengthened in some positions,” said Churchill Brothers FC coach Bernard.
“We have played well upfront, we’ve created several goal-scoring opportunities in every game and that makes me confident. In some games, we’ve made some mistakes in the defensive transition and the defensive process, especially in the last few minutes of matches, which has cost us points in some games. We know that if we improve those defensive aspects and improve our attacking effectiveness, it will be easier to win our next games,” added Bernard.