Churchill Brothers earned their maiden point of the ongoing I-League season as they rallied back from a goal down againt DSK Shivajians at the Balewadi Sports Complex, Pune, on Saturday. Adil Khan (86') scored the equaliser in the second half for the visitors to cancel Seong-Yong Kim's (22') first half opener.
Alfred Fernandes, the assistant coach of the Goan team, was pleased to have picked a point in the third round of the competition.
"To tell you frankly, it is a big relief for me. I had just a couple of sessions to assemble this team. It was tough to get the formation going and we were thrown directly in the big sea against Mohun Bagan. Living up to the expectations of the Goan fans, we have been putting up a good show. Though we have lost our first three matches, I have no complaints. Against Mumbai FC, we conceded in the last minute, that could have been a victory or at least a point. Finally, a point has arrived and something to show on the points table," he said.
The Red Machines, currently with Trinidad and Tobago striker Anthony Wolfe and Kyrgyztan midfiedler Bektur Talgat in their ranks, are yet to have all their four foreigners on board for the season.
"We are slowly getting into the groove and hopefully by the next match or after the Bengaluru FC match, our foreign players will arrive. We are looking for a foreign defender who be a leader at the back and who can really carry the team from the back four," the Churchill assitant informed.
"As you know, we are lacking the firepower up front, which is very important. We have been doing everything. Either the post is coming in our way or the penalty is not converted. So hopefully with the foreign striker coming in, things will get sorted," he added.
Churchill Brothers could have scored the equaliser minutes before Khan earned them a point, but Wolfe was guilty of missing from 12 yards out as Shivajians goalkeeper Soram Anganba pulled off a save.
"I had a word with Wolfe after the match. I told him that the 90 minutes are gone and so it has to go out of the system. He is a professional team man and I have the confidence in him to work hard. I will always nominate him to take the penalties," said Fernandes.
The Goan coach also believes that his side can give the best teams a good fight in the league and rates pressure as an essential factor in any competition.
"DSK played in the I-League last year. They had a whole year to prepare. They also have some four quality foreigners and quality players. We still gave them a good fight and showed that we can still play against the best teams. I literally had only three sessions before the season.
"In football, there is always pressure. Who does not face pressure are the teams who do not have relegation fears. Being the only Goan club, our management decided that we will make a team based on Goan talent. At a given time, eight Goans are always in the playing 11, which is after a long time - probably after eight years when Dempo SC were winning the I-League," he signed off.
Meanwhile, the head coach of DSK Shivajians, Dave Rogers admitted that they were playing for a point against their visiting rivals. "We were looking to get a point, if I have to be honest. I told the boys that this (Churchill Brothers) is a good team. They have been a bit unlucky in the last games," he admitted.
Assessing his team's performance, the Briton stated, "I thought we had a sloppy start. It's nothing to be disrespectful of the boys, but it's one of those games that we started slow. I'll give Churchill all the credit who were the better team today. I think we were quite lucky to get a point."
Branding the Shivajians as a team who play with an attacking tempo like no other in India, the 41-year-old claimed that his side will be ready for the Mohun Bagan challenge on Tuesday.
"I don't think there is any other team in the country playing at the attacking tempo that we are playing. But again, it's no good being a good attacking team if you cannot organise and communicate to defend the goals coming in. We've got Mangi (Gouramangi Moirangthem) at the back who is 30 years of age, Sasha (Kolunija) who is 29, Kim at 29 and (Juan) Quero is 32. So it's not about lacking a leader, it's about lacking communication.
"It will be a challenge facing Mohun Bagan and I will be looking for the players to respond in the right way, which I'm sure they will," he concluded.