Juma'at: We can't use weather as excuse against Churchill

The Home United captain acknowledges that the humidity in Goa will be a big factor in their AFC Cup tie against the Indian side but stressed that they just have to adapt to it

Home United skipper Juma’at Jantan believes that the humid weather in Goa will play an important role when his side take on Churchill Brothers in the AFC Cup on Tuesday night.

However, the 30-year-old is adamant that it cannot be used as an excuse to not perform, with the team lying bottom of Group E.

“The weather will play a big part but as a professional, we can’t cite that as a reason," he asserted at the pre-match press conference at the Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in India earlier this afternoon.

"We have to play [our best]; hopefully everything goes well. On Monday, we will have our first practice session. On Sunday, because of fatigue, the coach (Lee Lim Saeng) decided to have a relaxing session."

The S.League outfit lost their opener 1-0 against New Radiant SC in Maldives, before being held 1-1 at the Jalan Besar Stadium last Wednesday by Indonesia's Persipura Jayapura. In that second game, the Protectors were dominant and Juma'at conceded that they should have bagged the victory.

“We should have won the game," he lamented. "In the second half they scored one goal because of a lack of concentration on our side. In the first half, we should have killed them by three or four goals."

Home have had a slow start as well in the league, with only one win in three matches so far. Injuries have played a major role in both their domestic and continental campaigns, with up to eight players on the treatment table, including key ones like Bruno Castanheira, Noh Rahman, Indra Sahdan and Song Ui-young.

But Juma'at refused to use that as an excuse either as he called on his team-mates to give their all.

“I don’t take injuries as a reason," he declared. "The players should step up and we have to show good football. Hopefully we can get three points here."

Churchill themselves have struggled in the I-League so far, where they lie bottom, but full-back Raju Yumnam hopes they can build on their last AFC Cup win against New Radiant as they seek relief in Asian-level competition.

“I would say that we are in a difficult stage domestically [because] we need to avoid relegation," he said.

"But we are playing very well in the AFC Cup. We need to go further and further; expectations are high from us."

His team will have had three extra days of rest as they go into the tie, with Home having lost 3-0 to Brunei DPMM on Friday, Raju refuted suggestions that it would benefit them too much.

"I would say the more (extra) rest does not mean it’s an advantage," he said. "It’s up to the players, but for us this match is very important. We will go for a win to improve our chances to go through to the next level.”

The match between Churchill and Home will kick-off at 8p.m., Singapore time, on Tuesday.