Ruthless RoundGlass play Churchill Brothers with an eye on ISL promotion and Sudeva aim to avoid the drop.

 Still smarting under the disastrous 0-8 defeat against RoundGlass Punjab in Panchkula, Delhi-based Sudeva FC are now back on their home turf, hoping to make the most of the next tie versus NEROCA FC in the I-League 2022-23 at the Chhatrasal Stadium on Wednesday, March 1, 2023. The kick-off is at 2:00 pm IST.

Apart from the humiliating loss against the Punjab outfit, Sudeva FC had a rather successful campaign in the month of February, winning three games against Rajasthan United (3-2), Mumbai Kenkre (3-1) and TRAU (4-1).

They also held league leaders RoundGlass Punjab to a draw (1-1) in their own backyard. But the massive loss at Panchkula has left them licking their wounds, and they will have to do everything to recover from the shock and lift the sagging morale of the footballers.

Sankarlal Chakraborty confident of a comeback

In the pre-match press conference, Sudeva Delhi head coach Sankarlal Chakraborty said he was confident that his team would shrug off the disappointment and make a comeback. “We won’t face the same result again. I have asked the players to forget about the match as soon as possible and have motivated them for the next match, the Sudeva coach said.

Chakraborty also emphasised the importance of focusing on young players for the remainder of the season. “We aim to win the remaining matches and improve our youth players’ performances, and end the campaign on a high note. This is our target,” he commented.

On the upcoming match against NEROCA, Chakraborty said he expected a tough fight. “It will be a tough fight, as expected. I, like everyone else, want our team to win and move up the rankings, surpassing Kenkre tomorrow,” Chakraborty said.

NEROCA FC, on the other hand, have gone through many ups and downs this season. After struggling in the first half of the season, when they mostly stayed in the relegation zone, NEROCA went on to win four consecutive games at home and climb up the table. However, recent results have taken them back down to 10th place.

Gyan Moyon bemoans injuries and suspensions

NEROCA FC’s assistant coach, Gyan Moyon, believes that injuries and suspensions midway through the season cost them many points, but he is positive about their upcoming match. “We started the second half of the season well. However, the injuries and suspensions caused us trouble. But we are back at full strength now. Our expectation is to win the game and get the three points,” Moyon said.

When asked about Sudeva Delhi’s recent big loss, Moyon said it shouldn’t have any impact on Wednesday’s game. “Each game is different, sometimes the team play well and sometimes they are unlucky to concede too many goals,” he said.

Now that the competition for the Hero I-League title has become a two-horse race, RoundGlass Punjab cannot afford to drop points in the last three matches. The way they demolished Sudeva Delhi FC the other day, showed Staikos Vergetis’s side can up the ante when it is imperative. They turned the pressure of grabbing the top spot from Sreenidi Deccan into an opportunity and did the job clinically.

An eight-goal victory would have been scary for the next opponents at any stage of any league, and coming at a point when winning every match is necessary, it is even more intimidating. Churchill Brothers, the team RoundGlass play here at Tau Devi Lal Stadium on Wednesday, would definitely be wary of that.

Mateus Costa wants to focus on putting up a good fight

Perhaps that is why Churchill coach Mateus Costa intelligently said in the pre-match press conference on Tuesday, “We’ll just focus on ourselves and not on RoundGlass. They are obviously a very good team. We’ll try to go out there and enjoy ourselves. We are here to put up a good fight.”

The Red Machines have gone through a lot of ups and downs in the ongoing edition of the Hero I-League and currently placed fourth with 29 points from 19 outings. The inconsistency has been evident even in the last five matches, of which they have won only two. In terms of scoring goals, they are third (31) after Sreenidi and RoundGlass.

Mateus Costa’s boys have scored not one, not two, but ten goals more than third-placed Gokulam Kerala. Therefore, it is easy to understand that defence is Churchill’s weak point this I-League season That can be deadly while facing a side like RoundGlass, who have players like Luka Majcen, Juan Mera, Chencho Gyeltshen, Juan Carlos Nellar or Maheson Singh.

Churchill can draw heart from the fact that they had held this team to a goalless draw when they met at Tilak Maidan in Vasco da Gama. But obviously, this is a hungrier RoundGlass, who can smell the trophy. So Momo Cisse, Ponif Vaz et al have their work cut out. Churchill’s own forwards have been sublime on odd days and listless on even days. Vergetis will hope it is not the former for Abdoulaye Sane, Bayi Kamo or Emmanuel Yaghr on the morrow.

Vergetis, as is his wont, underplayed his team’s devastating form. “Of course I’m happy that the players combined so well in the last match and scored so many goals, but the most important thing to come out of that match were the three points. Even tomorrow, that will be the most important thing. Churchill have a lot of quality. We’ll have to remain focused. It won’t be easy to beat them. We can’t afford to relax,” he said.

The match will be telecast live on Eurosport, DD Sports and Discovery Plus OTT platform from 7pm.

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