I-League champions Churchill Brothers take on Indonesian Super League (ISL) side Persipura Jayapura in their first game of the AFC Cup group 'E' clash at the Mandala Stadium, Indonesia. Persipura are also the defending champions of the ISL and their stadium boasts a capacity of 25,000.
They are called the ‘Black Pearls’ as their jersey colours are black and red, similar to what is donned by AC Milan. They have a very experienced coach in Jacksen Tiago who led them to titles in the 2008-09, 2010-11 and 2012-13 seasons. In 2009 and 2011, they finished as runners-up in their domestic league.
STRENGTHS & WEAKNESSES
Strengths: They are known for their ball possession and positioning. They have some reliable and quick players such as strikers Boaz Solossa, Lukas Mandowen and Yohanes Pahabol who are able to threaten the opposition's defense. Under Tiago's guidance, Persipura usually play short passes and try to dominate the game.
Weaknesses: A lack of concentration towards the end of games has been a problem for defensive duo Andri Ibo and Bio Paulin. The players are physically strong but can be beaten for pace. Churchill can create a few problems for them if they increase the tempo of their game, especially in the last quarter of the match.
Yoo Jae-Hoon - The South Korean goalkeeper is indispensible to Persipura and has played in more than 80 games for the team since 2010 when he signed from Daejeon Citizen FC. His reflexes are good and he has been often called upon to make a number of crucial saves during this year's ISL campaign. He helped keep a clean sheet in the last league match against Persiba Balikpapan.
Bio Paulin - The Cameroon born defender who is now a naturalized Indonesian citizen has been with the club since 2007 and has made over 200 appearances for them. The centre back plays a vital role in Persipura's defense. He's renowned for his strength in the air, robust tackling and the threat he poses from set-pieces. He has been an integral part of the team's success in recent years and scored in the 2-2 draw against Putra Samarinda.
Boaz Solossa - He was last season's top scorer in the ISL and was named Player of the Year. He has the ability to drop into midfield to pick up the ball and can drift wide to create space for his team-mates to attack as well. He is known for his dribbling and crossing abilities and should be a handful for Churchill defense. He has recently returned to fitness and his timely recovery should be a big boost for the side.
The ‘Black Pearls’ have usually employed a 4-4-2 system this season with Yoo Jae-Hoon in goal. Centre back Bio Paulin will pair up with youngster Andri Ibo at the heart of the defense. South Korean midfielder Im Jun-Sik will play as the more defensive of the two central midfielders while captain Boaz Solossa is likely to partner Lukas Mandowen upfront.
Currently, Persipura have 4 foreigners in the squad. Goalkeeper Yoo Jae-Hoon, Im Jun-Sik in midfield, Bio Paulin Pierre in defense and Boakay Eddie Foday in attack. Yohanes Pahabol will be given a start if Solossa is deemed unfit to make the first eleven.
Tinus - Andri Ibo - Bio - Beroperay
Fakdawer - Jun-Sik - Gerald - Ian Kabes
Boaz - Mandowen
The team had made an indifferent start to life as champions in the league, but have now picked up with two victories and three draws in their last 5 matches. They beat Persela and Persiba Balikpapan 3-0 and 1-0 respectively while drawing 0-0 will current East Zone Leaders Mitra Kukar away from home. This leaves them in second position in the ISL with 9 points from 5 games.
PERFORMANCE IN THE AFC CUP
Persipura's best performance in AFC Cup was in the quarter-finals of the 2011 edition after defeating clubs like Vietnamese Song Lam Nghe An, Hong Kong and other Asian giants South China and East Bengal. They were beaten by Iranian club Erbil SC, 3-1 over two legs.