The Red Machines from Goa arrive in Pune hoping to buckle another win under their notch, but the home team look impervious and ready to dismantle the champions
Pune FC’s tussle with Churchill Brothers, in round five of the I-League, has been aptly named the battle of the Reds. Yet what the title belies is a further populist belief amongst the I-League faithful. This is, in fact, a challengers versus champions face off, where the Pune FC will look to beat Churchill in order to prove themselves worthy of the tag of potential usurpers of Churchill as Champions of India.
The game which will be held at the Balewadi Sports Complex in Pune, will see two teams at either end of the table battle it out for bragging rights.
Pune FC are third right now and form is on their side. They beat Bagan fair and square and even though some would argue that the Kolkata outfit looked out of touch with ten men on the pitch few would argue Pune FC weren’t the better side. Amongst many positives was the quality in Pune’s squad that became apparent.
Calum Angus already looks like a potential contender for buy of the season. His performances have been amazing, with his defensive display against Bagan earning him widespread accolades. Thongkhosiem Haokip looks like a potential national talent given the warm words of praise and admiration Mike Snoei, coach of Pune FC, spoke of him. Haokip should get the nod to start this game given that Raul Fabiani is to miss the game due to an injury sustained against Mohun Bagan.
Pune FC otherwise have a relatively fit squad that is capable of handling the best of teams on their day. “They are a team who is currently struggling, but definitely a team that plays for trophies. Moreover, when a team fires a coach there always is a new beginning with new energy,” opined Snoei on Churchill’s impending arrival. He added they (Pune FC) aimed to go to the summit of the I-League.
It is against a team firing on all cylinders that Mariano Dias, coach of Churchill Brothers, encourages his embattled squad to take up arms against. The reigning champions of the I-League have NO wins this season drawing two games after being humbled in the other two against Salgaocar SC and Mumbai FC.
Added to their woes is that Sukhwinder Singh has recently put in his papers, resigning from the post of Churchill’s technical director of football after burdening himself with the responsibility of Churchill’s poor start. Subhash Bhowmick is expected to take over, but it perplexing to see how he may effect immediate change in a faltering squad.
Dias has spoken at length on how a win will change the scenario for them, but also lamented his team’s poor finishing.
Neither Bineesh Balan nor Henri Antchouet have travelled with the squad, due to injuries sustained. Hugo Machado is fit to play. Also Syrian striker Ahmad Al Kaddour is likely to play having been included into the match-day squad. Dias though will have primed his squad to be brave as they head into this game will all to prove.
Churchill have the better record on paper as they’ve won four of the six games but records will be thrown out the window you’re only as good as your last game.
Pune FC have the ball rolling for them as they’ve gotten the best out of the squad so far, but a hungry animal is far more dangerous than a well fed one and the same analogy applies to Churchill. They are desperate for the win that can do wonders for their confidence and a win especially against potential title challengers will cement belief in the squad. A loss will push them further dwn the spiral of misery.
All the ingredients for a winner takes all match.
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