|By Khalis Rifhan
Churchill Brothers of India are facing two key battles simultaneously, in the domestic I-League and the regional AFC Cup competition, with the former being given priority at the moment.
They are currently top of their league, five points ahead of second place East Bengal, with four more matches to go in the I-League and will not risk any unwanted injury or fatigue to their key players in their next match against Warriors FC on Wednesday.
Speaking at the pre-match conference held at Hotel Royal on Tuesday afternoon, Churchill’s Technical Director Subhash Bhowmick said that it is inevitable that they have to leave out some players from their AFC Cup matches as they seek glory in the domestic league.
“Our biggest problem now is that we have four important matches coming up in our domestic league and it is very important period for us now and we are five points ahead of second placed team, East Bengal,” said Bhowmick
“To be honest we haven’t played a full strength squad in any of our AFC Cup matches as our main target is to win the I-League.
“The boys are proud to represent their country in such a prestigious continental tournament, but we have to maintain a balance so as to not hamper our chances of winning the I League, especially our next game against Dempo.”
Despite not utilising their full strength in the AFC’s second tier club competition, Churchill are on course to progress to the knock-out stages, with three more matches to play, including their game on Wednesday against Warriors FC.
“I am very satisfied with our performance in the AFC Cup so far where we stand third with four points from three matches,” added Bhowmick.
While India captain Sunil Chhetri and Afgahnistan international Belal Arezou were initially denied visa to Singapore, those issues have been settled after the club sought help from AFC and Warriors FC management.
“Chhetri and Arezou will be arriving tomorrow early morning and I will have to take a decision if they can start the match since they might be experiencing fatigue after their journey here from India,” said the Technical Director.
“But you know Chhetri will not want to sit on the bench, so I will most probably rest Arezou for our league match. But I do hope to rest Chhetri and get him ready for our game against Dempo.
“We will also be without our Brazilian defender Roberto Silva as he is still recovering from an injury. We will definitely start with our Senegalese defender Lamine Tamba and Gabon striker Henry Antchouet.”