I-League 2018/19: Churchill face must-win situation against Bagan

GOA: Churchill Brothers FC of Goa host Mohun Bagan of Kolkata in a return-leg 12th Hero I-League fixture, on Saturday, February 9, 2019, at the Tilak Maidan in Vasco Da Gama. The kick-off is at 5.00 PM IST.

The homeside are currently third on the table with 29 points from 16 games and cannot afford to lose at this stage of the league. Debutants Real Kashmir FC are on top with 32 points from the same number of games while Chennai City have two games in hand while being second with 30 points.

Former champions Mohun Bagan on the other hand will need a miracle of sorts to win the title for a second time. They are currently sixth after 15 games with 22 points and their fate is no longer in their hands.

Churchill go into the game as clear favourites, not only because they routed Mohun Bagan 3-0 in the first leg in Kolkata, but because despite going down 2-3 to Shillong in their previous game, the Goans have been highly impressive in the league and have shown quality goal-scoring prowess.

Churchill Brothers coach Petre Gigiu said ,”Theoretically ee have a chance but practically it is difficult.In this moment things are not in our hand,we had made our share of mistakes. We want to grow gradually in the next seasons and improve our performance. Khalid is injured he can’t play this match. Overall the team moral is not good and they are tired. Mohun Bagan is a good team tomorrow’s match will be difficult. ”

The fact that at this league stage, Churchill have scored a huge 10 goals more than Mohun Bagan, reiterates what might just make the difference on Saturday.

Undoubtedly Churchill will have Trinidadian striker Willis Plaza and Gambian winger Dawda Cessay to thank for their current position in the league after finishing in relegation zone last season.

The ‘deadly duo’ have accounted for 20 of the 29 goals Churchill have scored so far. While Plaza has been the more prolific scorer, topping the charts with 17 goals, Cessay has topped his three goals statistic with an astounding nine assists, the highest in the league.

For the visitors, it has been a tough season to say the least. The giants of Indian football are used to finishing in the top three almost as a birthright and the sixth position on the current table should hurt them and bring the best out of them.

“We are not thinking on how we can’t be the champions.We are looking for positive results, the team has to work hard. We never calculate in our position ,we have to think about tomorrow’s match which is vital for us. ” Khalid Jamil said at the pre match press conference.

Their premiere striker Dipanda Dicka of Cameroon, who finished the last two editions as top scorer of the league, has been far less prolific this season, but is still their top scorer with six goals.

Star Haitian winger Sony Norde, who became a regular only in the second half of the league, has also chipped in with four goals and so has Ugandan Henry Kisekka, but somehow the attacking unit has not worked well together consistently.

They have therefore not been able to hide the obvious creeks in defence, which has been the main weakpoint for the “Green & Maroons” this Hero I-League season.

New coach Khalid Jamil, will be in his fourth game in charge for Bagan this season and he shared his thoughts on match-day eve saying, “

Churchill will have to be at their best to put it over Bagan and cannot afford the slight laxity in approach they showed against Shillong. It will be a good game of football at the Tilak Maidan.

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