An in-form Churchill side will try to return the favour, after East Bengal had defeated them 3-0 in the first leg.....
Khabra, Arnab, Uga, Robert;
Cavin, Mehtab, Ralte;
CHURCHILL BROTHERS SC
Franco, Najjarine, Ravanan, Yumnam;
Dias, Lenny, Gurung, Balmuchu;
Churchill Brothers and East Bengal, the two top teams of the league table will face each other in a crucial encounter in the Salt Lake stadium on Saturday. Churchill have 34 points from their 14 matches whereas East Bengal have 30 points from 15 games. A win or draw will act as a catalyst to Churchill’s title hunt. But if East Bengal can pull this off, they will close down the gap to just a point point gap though the Goan side will have a game in hand.
The home advantage will certainly help East Bengal, as the I-League returns to the vibrant Salt Lake Stadium again after a month long break. The tactical battle between the two coaches will also be of much interest among the football fraternity. Trevor Morgan, the East Bengal coach, has been one of the most successful foreign coaches in India in recent times. On the other hand, Subhash Bhowmick, Churchill's technical director, had won two national leagues for East Bengal and is the only coach to win an international club tournament, namely the ASEAN Cup.
Morgan had the last laugh in the first leg match in Goa as his team snatched an impressive 3-0 victory against Churchill. However, as the season has progressed, East Bengal has stumbled in a few matches losing 3 in a 5 match span. Churchill, on the other hand has become stronger with every passing week. It will not be unfair to conclude that the away side will start the game as favourites.
All the East Bengal supporters will be looking forward to this game, as their new recruit Andrew Barisic will possibly make his debut in this match. It has been long that the Red and Gold has been suffering from the lackluster performance of the supporting strikers of Chidi Edeh. Manandeep Singh, who had scored one of the best goals of the season against Churchill in the first leg, has lost his touch of late. This has also cost him a place in the first team. His replacement, Robin Singh has also looked out of touch. Now, the inclusion of Barisic will provide Morgan with more options.
However, it will be interesting to see which foreigner makes place for the new striker. The other two overseas players, Penn Orji and Uga Okpara have been indispensible part of the East Bengal side for the last two and a half years. A few weeks ago, when Okpara was suspended for a post match brawl with Prayag United's Bello Rassaq, the East Bengal defense looked vulnerable. On the other hand, Penn Orji has looked predictable in some of the recent matches and was marked well by the opponent. Cavin Lobo has the ability to play as the central attacking midfielder and his brilliant performance in the last match against Mumbai FC has certainly made Morgan happy.
Talking of the Goan side, Churchill has displayed good attacking football throughout the season. Their foreigners have excelled, supported well by the Indian players like Denzil Franco and Steven Dias. Youngsters like Bineesh Balan have also performed occasionally to help the team sail through the adversities. The star performer has been Roberto da Silva, who has already scored 11 goals.
The responsibility of holding the striking duo of East Bengal will rely on the shoulders of Bilal Najjarine and Dharmaraj Ravanan. The team has won 11 of their 14 matches and will definitely look forward to retain their form.
East Bengal:-East Bengal will probably introduce their new foreign striker Andrew Barisic in the match. However, it will be hard for him to get a first team berth. The good news is that Harmanjot Khabra returns from injury. Skipper Sanju Pradhan will not be part of the squad due to an injury.
Churchill Brothers: For the Churchill Brothers it will be a chance to get closer to the beckoning I-league title. Bhowmick is certainly happy with his team’s performance and no big changes should be expected. The responsibility of scoring will rely on Roberto da Silva and Antchouet. The likes of Steven Dias and Tomba Singh will try to nullify the effect of ball-players like Penn and Lobo.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- These two teams have faced each other twice this season and on both occasions, East Bengal won the tie.
- Churchill Brothers has scored 37 goals this season, which is the highest among all teams.
- East Bengal have conceded the least number of goals in the league (6).
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