I-League 2017-18: Alfred Fernandes - We are ready to challenge Minerva

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Alfred Fernandes Aizawl FC Churchill Brothers SC I-League 2017
Bottom-placed Churchill Brothers are all set to take on table toppers Minerva Punjab in Goa...

Relegation-threatened Churchill Brothers take on I-League toppers Minerva Punjab in a crucial encounter in Goa on Friday.

Minerva’s four-match winning streak came to an end in Kolkata where they only managed a 2-2 draw against East Bengal. Churchill Brothers, on the other hand, stumbled in front of title challengers NEROCA FC in their previous match.

It is a must-win game for the Red Machines who are languishing at the bottom of the league table and staring at a possible relegation.

Speaking about the match against the league leaders, Churchill Brothers assistant coach Alfred Fernandes said, “It was hard to digest (a defeat against NEROCA) especially after putting all the efforts in by the players. We dominated the match. It was very heartening. But we are professionals and have to recover from such setbacks and focus on the coming match.”

The Goan coach agreed that they are in a very difficult position at the moment but sounded confident about making a strong come back.

“We are at the bottom of the table. That is a fact. But with the addition of new players, we are ready to challenge (Minerva). We dominated and played well against a side like NEROCA who are in the second position. Same goes for Minerva as well. We are confident. Tomorrow we will create something special. Minerva are the only unbeaten side in the league but I am confident tomorrow the unbeaten run will come to an end,” said Fernandes.

On asked if he has plans for Minerva star Chencho Gyeltshen, Fernandes said, “Minerva are a success story and credit goes to Chencho. But it is a team game. He is definitely a player to mark. But there are 10 other players. We have to be cautious about all the 11 players.”

He further added that his team needs to play a team game to beat the title favourites tomorrow.The coach said, “It is always about the team and even though there will be some players who will excel but at the end of the day we win as a team and we lose as a team.”

Minerva coach Khogen Singh was not worried after their draw against East Bengal. He said, “East Bengal are a good side. We got a point and that was good. My boys are inexperienced and there was a lot of pressure of the home fans.”

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When asked if the unbeaten run in five consecutive away games is an added advantage for his side, Khogen replied, “Yes winning away matches is definitely an advantage. My boys are high on motivation.”

Khogen Singh expects a tough challenge in Goa from Churchill Brothers. He said, “We expect a tough challenge from Churchill Brothers. In the last match, they played really well against NEROCA. This a home match for them but we have to get three points.”

On Chencho’s presence in the team, Singh suggested, “At our club, all players are equal. Chencho is definitely an important player but we are performing as a team. I don’t think one player cannot change a game.”