As the S.League side prepare to take on the Red Machines in their third AFC Cup Group E match, Goal India helps to shed some light on their opponents
The Indian champions are in second place with 3 points, tied on points with Maldives' New Radiant SC. Home, however. are at the bottom of the table with only a point from their two games.
The Goan outfit are playing their second consecutive AFC Cup game after convincingly drubbing New Radiant 3-0 a week ago. They have a fully fit squad to choose from this time around with Balwant Singh, Lalit Thapa and Saran Singh having recovered from their niggling injuries.
“Balwant is not 100% fit; he may come in the later stage maybe," a confident Mariano Dias said at the pre-match conference.
"No one’s place is permanent in the team, because there are other players who can come directly into the team.
"The previous days’ performance will also be counted. Cristian Lagos will be definitely starting because he has done quite well in the last match getting us two goals."
Churchill are placed at the bottom in the I-League table and are struggling to keep themselves above the relegation zone. Having said that, they played well in their last AFC Cup match and will definitely look to take the momentum into this game.
Cristian was the star, scoring a brace and tormenting the New Radiant defenders with his physical and aerial ability throughout the game. However, his strike partner Anthony Wolfe had contrasting fortunes. Even with a goal to his name, he missed a host of chances that would have increased Churchill’s lead. These two strikers, together with Egyptian midfielder Abdelhamid Shabana, will play a crucial role if the Red Machines have to take command of this group.
Home have had a disappointing start to their AFC Cup campaign. They were edged out 1-0 by New Radiant in their first game and drew their second match 1-1 to Indonesia's Persipura Jayapura in a game where they should have won full points, given their domination.
They have been massively affected by injuries this season, with eight players from their squad on the treatment table. They have travelled to India with only 14 players, which was also the case in their last S.League game against Brunei DPMM, which they lost 3-0.
“After the last game, we left the following day in the evening for India," coach Lee Lim Saeng said. "I think the fatigue will have increased. I hope the players recover faster."
They played against Brunei DPMM on Marc 14h, travelled the next day and the coach gave them a day off on Sunday, which meant that going into the game, they have had just one proper training session.
Skipper Juma’at Jantan, however, is not concerned about the injuries: ”I don’t take injuries as a reason. The players should step up and we have to show good football. Hopefully we can get three points here."
The Singaporean outfit will need a lot of determination and confidence to overcome this highly inconsistent Churchill side if they ever have serious ambitions of going into the Round of 16.