Defending champions Churchill Brothers look to overthrow the visitors from Shillong in what the home team see as a must-win game.Round 14 of the I-League is upon us and it brings with it the reverse fixtures of the 2013/14 league season, with the first of those being the duel between Churchill Brothers and Shillong Lajong. The title defense hasn’t quite worked out the way the Red Machines would have wanted, as they fight for survival instead.
The Reds of Shillong however, are flying high in fifth place and a win will catapult them into the top three, albeit temporarily, for the first time this season. With all to play for, this should definitely be a juicy encounter.
Churchill are in all sorts of bother. They have lost six of their games this season with just one win. With the half-way mark of the season upon us and no signs of recovery visible, Mariano Dias will be praying for a miracle on the field. Their foreign recruits in Abdul Shabana, Yasser Shahen and Naser Al Sebai may have galvanized their team to an extent but a lot of the flaws still remain. Their win over Sporting Goa might have been a false dawn as they were overrun by a superb Bengaluru FC side.
Dias will have to go with Balwant Singh who has scored two goals in as many games. The coach has also complained that confidence remains at dearth and he will be desperately hoping his side can turn up the heat on the visiting team and gain belief.
“Defensively, we were very poor and all the three goals that we conceded were due to poor defending,” said Dias, post the defeat by Bengaluru. They have the second worst defensive record in the top division and no doubt the gaffer will look to rectify that.
Anthony Pereira is carrying an injury but may make the final line-up as he will be needed. With no injury troubles in the offing, the coach should go with the same team that lost to Bengaluru.
The case of Thangboi Singto and Shillong Lajong is quite the paradox. Sitting pretty in fifth, this is possibly their best start to an I-League season since their inception. They will look to secure a top three position as they breathe down the neck of the trio at the top.
Singto has praised his teams’ depth in squad quality and quantity especially in light of their victory over second placed Salgaocar. Fatigue could be an issue as they travel all the way from Shillong to Goa. Also, Singto faces a quandary over the fitness of his trio of foreigners Cornell Glen, Minchol Son and Bomfin Uilliams, with only one of the three possibly making the cut.
With no debilitating injuries blighting the squad, the gaffer will look to go for an away victory which would be just their second this season. Therefore, the stage is set for a cracker of a match, the fluency of a cohesive Shillong side up against the tottering Churchill Brothers. The loser will have a lot of catching up to do at either end of the table.
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