Summing up his thoughts ahead of the game, Churchill coach Alfred Fernandes said, “Tomorrow is a new day, new match and we will have to start from scratch again. Past performance and victory does not count as it’s a knockout match. So everything is up for grabs. It’s a crucial match for both of us and the pressure will be on both teams because there is no second chance.”
The Goa side was beaten both times by the Kolkata giants in their I-League fixtures in the recently concluded season but Fernandes remains confident that they can win on Sunday.
“Both the times we were on the losing side. In the second time in Goa, we were almost on the winning side. My skipper scored a legitimate goal which was denied by the referee. So it is all in the past now. We cannot cry over spilled milk. We were on the losing side both the times but the law of averages can catch up with the other team. Tomorrow I am confident that we will be on the winning side,” the Churchill coach stated.
Churchill Brothers finished ninth in the 10-team I-League, resulting in relegation from the top division and Fernandes cited a lack of focus in the middle-part of the campaign as the cause.
“Initially we were short of foreign players who did not deliver. After the changeover, our captain came and another three came in, and we were transformed with the foreign quota. We were playing good football. However, there were some lapses in concentration midway through the league and that is when we started losing the matches. Once the confidence is down it is very tough for the team to cope up. Still we were playing good football but results were not going our way,” Fernandes explained.
“We have ability because we are a good team and that we proved that in the last match (against Delhi Dynamos). Everyone is saying how we can play like that and get relegated but that is football. On a given day, we can be the champion beaters and after that we can be lousy but that is football. One bad day in the office sometime hurts you,” he added.
Fernandes called Sunday’s opponents as one of the best teams in the competition and is expecting a tough match.
“Mohun Bagan’s strong point is that they have a complete and good compact set of players. Being a legacy club too, they are one of the champion clubs of India. They have a very good set of players playing together. They also had problems with injury like us but now they also have started playing well. We are expecting a very tough match with them being one of the best teams in the table,” he said.
Asked if the signing of former East Bengal striker Willis Plaza was turning out to be a trump card for the Goa side, Fernandes replied in the affirmative.
“We can say that he a trump card because after the injury of Koffi (Mechac) whom we lost midway in the season, we were short of a legitimate goal-scorer. We were creating a lot of opportunities but at the end of the day, the one who scores is the team which wins. We were falling short in the scoring department. Plaza being an out and out striker - No9, he has proved it with the Super Cup. So you can say he is a trump card. But we have other players also. But it is not about the individual. It is the team that counts,” he said before signing off.