I-League 2018/19: Churchill Brothers, Gokulam Kerala clash in high-octane game at Tilak Maidan

Goa, January 09, 2018: The I-League juggernaut rolls on as Goan giants Churchill Brothers host Gokulam Kerala FC at Vasco Da Gama’s Tilak Maidan on Thursday, January 10, 2019. Both sides had tied 1-1 in the first leg in Kozhikode and at this stage of the league, nothing less than a win will make any side happy. The exciting encounter is scheduled for a 5 pm IST kick-off.

Both Churchill and Gokulam, in their 11 games, have played an enterprising brand of football, the former far more effectively than the latter. The visitors will clearly be the more worried side, having last won close to two months back, despite getting close on many occasions.

Churchill, on the other hand, have been quite impressive. Their two losses notwithstanding, they have maintained their position in the top half of the table quite consistently despite losing key players to injuries in recent times.

According to their Romanian coach Petra Gigiu, “I know its very difficult to win the championship. Now that we are in the fifth position, it is very important for our players to try their best to win, as theoretically, we can but practically, we will see.”

Speaking on match-day eve, he also spoke about missing players on Thursday adding, “Tomorrow’s match against Gokulam Kerala is not an easy game. It’s a good team and their players work hard. Nenad will be missing tomorrow’s match because of his booking but Eldor will be making his comeback tomorrow and Plaza too, which can be of advantage to our team. We will try to come back and score in tomorrow’s game.”

Kerala coach Bino George’s problems, gauging by his frequent signings, seems to stem from the foreign attacking option. In news coming in, Trinidad & Tobago Pro League top scorer Marcus Joseph is likely to make his debut on Thursday.

Joel Sunday, who appeared in three games in between, has been released. This, after Antonio German left a while back and after Bino had also drafted in Ghanaian Christian Sabah and Ivorian Arthur Kouassi as attacking options, earlier this season.

The affable coach pinned a lot of hopes on his new signings on the eve of the game saying, “Recently we have two new strikers, Marcus Joseph from Trinidad & Tobago and Charles from Ghana, so the team is hoping to play well. I know the Goans have good foreign players. Our style of playing is attacking football and after the two new strikers have joined, our team’s confidence levels have increased.”

They will need all that confidence as Churchill, with their attacking force consisting of the likes of Willis Plaza, Dawda Cessay and Anthony Wolfe, will certainly be a handful at home.

The trio has accounted for 14 of the 19 goals scored by Churchill so far.

Plaza, in particular, and Wolfe lately have been clinical this season and Gokulam’s defence, which has let in 18 goals till now, will be tested to the hilt.

It will surely be a competitive fixture, given both have a passionate following and a lot of pride. The Tilak Maidan has also had its fair share of goals this season, and with both teams playing an attacking brand of football, the game promises to be entertaining as well.

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