Both the teams have qualified for the next phase of the I-League.

High-flying Gokulam Kerala aims to extend their winning streak when they take on unbeaten Churchill Brothers, who themselves are looking to extend their lead at the top of Hero I-League. The kick-off is slated for 2 PM IST at the KBK Stadium in Kolkata, West Bengal tomorrow (March 1, 2021), and the match will be broadcasted live on the 1Sports and 24 News channels, whilst being streamed on 1Sports Facebook page.

Churchill Brothers won their second match on the trot by beating NEROCA 1-0. The victory extended the Red Machines’ lead over Real Kashmir on the top of the Hero I-League to two points.. With both Kashmir and Gokulam Kerala hot on their heels, Fernando Varela’s side cannot afford to slip up against the Malabrians and will go for all three points as they try to extend their lead on the top.

Speaking at the official pre-match press conference, head coach Fernando Varela said, “We did a very good job to beat NEROCA. For me, it was one of the best games of the season. We created good chances and were resilient at the back. But now our focus is on the next game against Gokulam Kerala.”

“This game is far too important for us. We are at the top of the table and have everything to lose. They (Gokulam Kerala) are a good team, and they play attacking football with good Indian players as well as foreign players. But, I believe we have the best defense in the league so far. We are ready to fight and get all three points from them.”

Midfielder Vinil Poojary, who has been a key player in the midfield for Churchill Brothers, said, “Every player in the team is ready to play this game. We know how important this game is, how important three points are. Gokulam Kerala is among the best teams in the league. This motivates us to outperform them and win the game. ”

Meanwhile, Gokulam Kerala are in their best form since the start of the season after they beat Sudeva Delhi with a solitary goal extending their winning streak to three games. The victory pushed them into the third spot with 16 points from 9 matches, on the Hero I-League table, 3 points behind leaders and their next opponents. If Vincenzo Annese’s side can pick three points, they could blow the title challenge wide open going into the second phase of the Hero I-League.

Speaking at the virtual pre-match press conference, coach Vincenzo Alberto Annese said, “We dominated the last game, but scored just once. I am happy that we created a lot of chances, and not worried that we missed those chances against Sudeva. For me, it is a positive point. If we keep creating chances and putting pressure on opponents, we will definitely score goals.”

“I don’t think we can be too defensive against Churchill Brothers. They have quality players in Luka Majcen, Clayvin Zuniga, Kingsley Fernandes, and Bryce Miranda. They have a huge squad of players, but so do we. We need to focus and play our natural game if we want to win against them.”

Midfielder Thahir Zaman said, “Coach wants us to follow an attacking philosophy of football. As a player, it was very much hard to adapt to it first. The team has taken its time, but now have embraced this style, and as a result, we are the team with the most goals so far. We will continue to play with the same philosophy regardless of the opposition.”

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