The Red Machines play host to the Singaporean outfit in an important Group E encounter in the AFC Cup...
Churchill Brothers will look to continue where they left off in the AFC Cup when they face Singapore’s Home United in an exciting group E encounter. The Indian champions are in second place with 3 points, tied on points with Maldives' New Radiant FC. Home United are however at the bottom of the table with only a point from their two games.
The Goan outfit are playing their second consecutive AFC Cup game after convincingly drubbing New Radiant 3-0, a week ago. They have a fully fit squad to choose from this time around with Balwant Singh, Lalit Thapa and Saran Singh having recovered from their niggling injuries.
“Balwant is not 100% fit. He may come in the later stage maybe. No one’s place is permanent in the team, because there are other players who can come directly into the team.
"The previous days’ performance will also be counted. Cristian Lagos will be definitely starting because he has done quite well in the last match getting us two goals,” said a confident Mariano Dias at the pre-match conference.
Churchill are placed at the bottom in the I-League table and are struggling to keep themselves above the relegation zone. Having said that, they played well in their last AFC Cup match and they will definitely look to take the momentum into this game.
Cristian Lagos was the star, scoring a brace and tormenting the New Radiant defenders with his physical and aerial ability throughout the game. Anthony Wolfe, his strike partner however had contrasting fortunes. Even with a goal to his name, he missed a host of chances that would have increased Churchill’s lead. These two strikers together with Egyptian midfielder Abdelhamid Shabana will play a crucial role if the Red Machines have to take command of this group.
Home United have had a disappointing start to their AFC Cup campaign. They were edged out 1-0 by New Radiant in their first game and drew their second 1-1 to Indonesia's Persipura Jayapura in a game where they should have won full points given their domination of the ball.
They have been massively affected by injuries this season, with 8 players from their squad on the treatment table. They have travelled to India with only 14 players, which was also the case in their last S-League game against Brunei DPMM FC which they lost 3-0.
“We now have 8 injured players. That’s why now we have a problem and also after the last game (against DPMM FC), we left the following day in the evening for India. I think the fatigue will have increased. I hope the players recover faster. Now we are here with 14 players only,” said Lim-Saeng Lee.
As Lee said, recovering from fatique will also play a huge part in Tuesday's game. They played against Brunei DPMM on the 14th of March, travelled the next day and the coach gave them a day off on Sunday, which meant that going into the game they have had just one proper training session.
Skipper Juma’at Jantan however is not concerned about the injuries. ”I don’t take injuries as a reason. The players should step up and we have to show good football. Hopefully we can get three points here."
The Singaporean outfit would need a lot of determination and confidence to overcome this highly inconsistent Churchill side, if they ever have serious ambitions of going into the round of 16.
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