By Kaustav Bera
Churchill Brothers made it into the AFC Cup after Dempo SC had pulled out from participating in the continental competition, citing too many injuries and disruptive scheduling which would hurt their I-League chances.
The Red Machine are going great guns in this year's I-League, sitting pretty at second in the table, one point off leaders East Bengal but with two games in hand. They have every chance to make the I-League their own. Primary to their devastating league form have been their foreigners this season, especially the Lebanese duo of Bilal Najjarine and Akram Moghrabi who had complemented skipper Beto, perfectly.
However both the Lebanese players have departed the club and Churchill have some work to do, in order to replicate their early season form. Coach Mariano Dias though has shown through the replacements he has signed, that he means business. They have recruited defender Lamine Tamba and forward Balal Arezou for the team, but the surprise transfer has been the signing of India skipper and No. 1 striker, Sunil Chhetri on loan until the end of the season from Sporting Lisbon 'B'.
They however did not get a great start to their AFC Cup campaign as they went down without a fight to Hong Kong based Kitchee SC in the first round and are looking to bounce back when they take on high flying Semen Padang FC.
Goal.com has a look at Indonesia based Semen Padang FC, who are their group rivals.
Semen Padang FC are the defending champions of Indonesian Premier League 2011-12, based in Padang city, West Sumatera. They are commonly known as 'Kabau Sirah" in Indonesia.
They are a tactically strong team, who like to keep the ball on the ground, pass it around in the 'tiki-taka' mould and allow the opposition to come at them. They are adept at pressing high up and also have probably one of the best attacking sides in the whole of Indonesia.
Semen Padang's Achilles Heel is their defense as Cameroonian centre-back David Pagbe has not travelled with the team and their newly signed defenders have not yet built a solid partnership and are not in sync with the midfielders. They are prone to the occasional error as well.
SPFC opened their IPL 2013 campaign with a 2-0 victory over Pro Duta FC, last week. The team also is regarded as the favourites to win this season's title due to their solid preparations
|BEST AFC CUP PERFORMANCE
This is their first participation in the AFC Cup after winning the Indonesian Premier League last term and they have started off in great fashion beating Singaporean club, Warriors FC 3-1 in the first group stage encounter.
Their greatest result in a continental competition was reaching the Quarter Finals of the 1993-94 Asian Cup Winners Cup.
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