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I-League 2018-19: Churchill Brothers head coach Petre Gigiu wants a 'physically tough' side

07:45 GMT+4 20/10/2018
Churchill Brothers Aizawl FC I-League 2017/2018
The mood in Churchill Brothers' camp is positive after they defeated ISL side FC Goa in the build up to the I-League....

After being relegated and subsequently being re-instated, Churchill Brothers are looking to win their third league title under head coach Petre Gigiu in the upcoming 2018-19 season.

The Red Machines had finished in the ninth position, only a place above Indian Arrows in the last season but were brought back into the top division by the All India Football Federation (AIFF) as their relegation would have left Goa with no representatives in the top division. 

Although most of the squad was already built before the arrival of the head coach, the Romanian gaffer stressed that he is satisfied with the players at his disposal.

"All the players are good and I have confidence in these players. I hope to have good results and we will be fighting for the first place," Gigiu told Goal.

"The players are making good attempts to respect my rules. Sometimes they can, sometimes they find it tough but they are all working hard. My philosophy in football is to be physically tough and maintain your positions well," he added.

The management has put together a strong squad after retaining the core from last season including the likes of Lebanese defender Hussein Eldor, Gambian midfielder Dawda Ceesay and Trinidad and Tobago forward Willis Plaza who was roped in towards the end of last season.

Among the foreigners added to the roster are Serbian centre-back Nenad Novakovic, Ugandan midfielder Khalid Aucho and Mexican forward David Izazola.

Only two of the six foreigners (Novakovic and Plaza) started against Indian Super League (ISL) side FC Goa in the friendly that took place at the Bambolim stadium on Thursday evening. Plaza was the standout performer on the evening with a brace as Churchill won 2-1.

Despite the ISL outfit fielding as many as six foreigners in their first 11, Churchill Brothers gave their Goan counterparts a tough time with the Indian players also giving a good account of themselves.

"This team which played against FC Goa is not our I-League side but the one we use in the Goa (Pro) League but we fought very well. In football, sometimes it's all about the fight. We made a few mistakes but we rectified them. We tried to play without mistakes in defence and use counterattacks," Gigiu reflected.

In the Indian players' department, the club have retained their consistent performers such as James Kithan, Wayne Vaz, Israil Gurung and Nicholas Fernandes and have added the likes of Kunzang Bhutia (ATK), Jovel Martins (FC Goa), William Niasso (Calangute Association), Richard Costa (East Bengal) and Fredsan Marshall who has previously played for Dempo SC's U-20 team.

Churchill Brothers begin their I-League 2018-19 campaign in an away clash against defending champions Minerva Punjab on October 28.