The state has gone from having the most representation in the I-League to having none in a matter of years.
Cricket might be India’s National game, but, in the small state of Goa, people breathe football. In recent years, the Goan football is taking a huge downfall, with clubs like Dempo SC, Salgaocar FC and Sporting Clube de Goa already withdrew from the I-league last season, it was an opportunity for another Goan club, Churchill Brothers to maintain the Goan pride in India’s elite football league. But, after losing to Minerva Punjab in the final game of I-League today, that dream has faded away as Churchill won’t be part of the I-league next season. Looks like the fairytale of Goan football is turning into a horror story and this will haunt the Goan football fanatics on a big scale.
A former Churchill player and current Vasco SC assistant coach, Micky Fernandes stated “It is sad for Goan football. I have played for the team under the same coach (Alfred Fernandes) and I know what he must be feeling now. Though I am with Vasco now, I still have that feeling for Churchill Brothers. The club is like a family to me & when I saw today’s result, I was saddened.”
Churchill Brothers were relegated following defeat against Minerva Punjab FC in the final day of the I-League
The last season’s story of Churchill was they were back in the I-League after a gap of three years. The club got a notice of short period in which they were unable to make quality signings which were reflected in their performance in the first half of that season, where they were sitting at the bottom of the league. Then, they brought the most influential and experienced head coach of the Indian football, Derrick Pereira. The man moulded the team and got the team on the winning track, where they ended their campaign in the 6th position.
Churchill Brothers had a lot of things to learn from I-league 2016/17 season, but they followed the same path and history was repeated. This season was similar to the last, as they were sitting at the bottom of the table till the mid-season with just 7 out possible 27 points. With the disappointing performances by the Nigerian players who were unknown to the Indian football were replaced by five new foreign players who gave Churchill a ray of hope with a 2-1 win over I-League champions Minerva. Sadly, their hard work didn’t pay-off, as a defeat again the same opponents forced them out of the league.
After the relegation of the only Goan team from I-League, Goan football fanatics are losing their hope on the future of Goan football. With so much talent in the state, Goa deserves more than one representative in the top tier of the Indian football. But with Churchill already out of the league, the state will no longer represent in the National league, until & unless, the idea of merging the I-League and ISL is put into practicality, and FC Goa will be the team that will represent the state.
The state which was once a major hub of football is now losing its main essence. FC Goa is slowly beginning to gain the support of the Goan fanatics but it will take time what clubs like Dempo SC, Churchill, Salgaocar FC and Sporting Clube de Goa had achieved in the past years.
The FC Goa assistant coach and former Churchill Brothers head coach, Derrick Pereira was heartbroken after Churchill’s defeat against the Punjab side. He said “It will be a big loss for Goan football. As we know, FC Goa and Churchill were the only representatives of the state at the National level, but if, now Churchill are relegated, then the most of the young talented players will have to move out of state to find their food. But, AIFF retains the Goan club like they did with Aizawl FC in the last season, then there can be a representative of the state.”