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I-League GW 11 Preview: Shillong visit Minerva and Chennai with implications at both ends of table

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Elsewhere, Churchill Brothers and Aizawl also face double headers this week.

A draw and a loss against East Bengal and Churchill respectively meant that Minerva have made it hard for themselves in the league now that the gap is just 2 points from 2nd placed NEROCA. Mohun Bagan gained a lot of ground after beating Shillong 3-0 and moved up to 3rd place in the standings and are currently above East Bengal as on (3.2.18) on goal difference.

On the other end of the table, Churchill brothers have made great progress and are up to 13 points for the season and have won 4 out of the last 5 games. The Indian Arrows, Chennai City FC and Gokulam Kerala are still languishing in the bottom but another game week is upon them in the I-League and a chance to move up the table presents itself. Let’s dive into the match previews. 

Churchill Brothers vs. Aizawl FC

Date & Venue: 6th February/ Tilak Maidan, Goa.

Time & Broadcast: 05:30 PM/ Star Sports 2, Star Sports 2 HD & Hotstar.

Churchill Brothers have shown the clubs a fine example of some great recruitment. Koffi Mechac has been very effective since his arrival and has propelled the club’s attacking quotient to another level. The midfielder Bektur Talgat from Kyrgyz has been connecting well with the Ivorian and this has produced great results for the Red Machines.

Churchill Brothers are desperate to avoid relegation at all costs

Churchill have scored first 4 times in their last 5 games and have turned around their season. Their last 5 fixtures have produced 12 points and that’s the kind of form you expect title-winning sides to have and in the form Churchill are in, the defending champions will have it tough at the Tilak Maidan.

Without a win in 4 games, Aizawl FC are rotting in mediocrity and are struggling to keep up with their performances. This game is a 6 pointer and a win for Aizawl is very much needed if they want to achieve a top half finish. The game against Chennai City would’ve gone awry for the defending champions but the lady luck was smiling down on them.

Yugo Kobayashi has been in good form and they will look to capitalize on this in the game against Churchill. Although Aizawl FC does have the upper hand in this fixture as they won the reverse fixture at home back in December, Churchill are a rejuvenated side and this clash will be a hard one for Aizawl.

Minerva Punjab vs. Shillong Lajong

Date & Venue: 7th February/ Tau Devi Lal Stadium, Panchkula.

Time & Broadcast: 02:00 PM/ Star Sports 2, Star Sports 2 HD & Hotstar.

Minerva Punjab slipped to an unfortunate defeat last time around against Churchill Brothers. Although they had a good chance to come back into the game, the wasteful penalty by Chencho meant that the game was going to end Churchill’s way. Things are not looking all bad for Minerva as they are 2 points above 2nd placed NEROCA with a game in hand.

Minerva will be looking forward to reclaim the league leaders' seat against Shillong Lajong

Minerva Punjab are only making it hard for themselves if they drop points. The I-League is still their title to lose and a win in this game would only make it easier for the team. Two important fixtures coming up for the team as they take on East Bengal right after this match. Minerva will look to pick up a result in both the fixtures and cement their place in the top.

Shillong Lajong are dwelling in mid-table and will be content with a mid-table finish this season. Even though they did start out strong, their inconsistency meant that they could never actually put together a string of positive results together. Coming on the back of two losses, Shillong look more vulnerable than ever and will have to give all they have to scrap a result against the forceful Minerva Punjab.

Chennai City vs. Mohun Bagan

Date & Venue: 7th February/ Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Coimbatore.

Time & Broadcast: 05:30 PM/ Star Sports 2, Star Sports 2 HD & Hotstar.

A below average season for both these sides as they are nowhere close to achieving what they both set out to do. Chennai City FC looked like they would challenge the big guns in this season but they squad has not translated the quality side they look like on paper. A great striker on the front coupled with good midfielders in Soosai and Edwin should help the team but it has not gone right for Soundarrajan’s men this season.

The Southerners are gunning for a higher position in the league table

11 points from 13 games are not ideal for the club as relegation is in play and Chennai City cannot afford to get relegated this season. The impressive attacking line-up has failed to score in 5 of their last 6 games which is very worrying for the side. Chennai City should pick up their performances if they want to avoid an embarrassing situation.

Mohun Bagan started out the season in a very lousy fashion. Slowly but steadily, they have managed to get things back together and are now just 2 wins away from catching league leaders Minerva Punjab. They are in good nick at the moment and with Dipanda Dicka and Moghrabi firing on all cylinders, Mohun Bagan are a huge threat in the league.

Two easy fixtures coming up for the Mariners and they will look to win both the fixtures and will hope the clubs around them drop some points. Anything could happen in the coming weeks and Mohun Bagan will look to be on the lookout and will pounce on it if anything were to go wrong.


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NEROCA FC vs. Aizawl FC

Date & Venue: 10th February/ Khuman Lampak Stadium, Manipur.

Time & Broadcast: 02:00 PM/ Star Sports 2, Star Sports 2 HD & Hotstar.

A win against a resolute Churchill Brothers was valued very highly by the Manipuri based outfit in the kind of form they are in. Before the Churchill game, NEROCA looked like they had lost their footing as they suffered two back to back blows but the win against Churchill meant that they were now only 2 points adrift the first place Minerva Punjab.

The Manipuri side is expected to fight for their hard-earned drivers' seat in the standings

NEROCA are yet to face Gokulam Kerala at the time of writing this article and a win should send them to the top of the table. NEROCA have been one of the better teams to watch in this year’s edition of the I-League and their football is free-flowing and the attacking threat is very high.

Aizawl FC are in a bit of rut as well. They travel to Goa to face Churchill and after a quick turnaround of 4 days; they come to Manipur to face NEROCA. Aizawl have also played 2 games lesser than NEROCA and will have an opportunity to close the gap between these two teams but for now, they need to focus on making the most of this away trip.

Beating NEROCA at home is not an easy task and to add to that, Aizawl FC have one of the worst away records in the league with just 1 win in 4 games. Aizawl FC needs everything to work in their favor and will have to fight hard to get any kind of result against this resilient side.

Indian Arrows vs. Churchill Brothers

Date & Venue: 10th February/ Tilak Maidan, Goa.

Time & Broadcast: 05:30 PM/ Star Sports 2, Star Sports 2 HD & Hotstar.

The Young arrows have had struggles competing with some of these bigger players in the league but that’s great exposure for the young boys. They are winless in 3 games and at the time of writing this article, they are yet to face East Bengal. A win in that game could cause major shifts in the title run-in.

Indian Arrows have had a mixed bag of a season so far. They have shown their attacking and defensive prowess to us at some point in the league but have failed to keep up that level of consistency. They are without a goal in 3 games and that is not a good sign.

The Arrows suffered a last moment defeat against East Bengal

Churchill have scored 12 goals so far this season and 9 of those goals have come in the last 5 games. This stat is quite evident to show us the kind of form that they have kept up in recent times. Churchill have been extremely potent in front of goal and are punishing the teams with every small mistake they make.

The fixture is a very winnable one for the Red Machines and they will look to do just that. The Goan outfit are in great form at the moment and will look to keep that run going and will look to finish the season strong after their initial bad run of form.

Chennai City FC vs. Shillong Lajong

Date & Venue: 11th February/ Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Coimbatore.

Time & Broadcast: 02:00 PM/ Star Sports 2, Star Sports 2 HD & Hotstar.

Chennai City FC have the worst record at home in the league. Having played 5 games at home, they are still yet to register a win in Coimbatore. With 3 draws and 2 defeats at home, Chennai City have had quite the contrasting season from last year’s edition of the I-League.

Chennai City needs to improve their performances at home to have a chance to move up the table and finish strong. More importantly, they will need to perform at their highest level to avoid relegation this season as they are in danger of losing out their spot in the I-League. A win against the league’s leakiest defence should help the Southern outfit massively.


Shillong Lajong will be travelling to Chennai in search of a positive result


Shillong, coming on the back of a game against Minerva Punjab, will want to win against the minnows Chennai City. With no wins in 2 matches as on 4.2.18, Shillong will face the high flying Minerva Punjab before heading down to Coimbatore to face the misfiring Chennai City FC.

Shillong will look to capitalize on the poor form of the Southern outfit and a win looks very much likely on paper. Chennai City have been plagued with bad luck this season and it has affected their performances this season to no end. This game against Shillong will be quite crucial for the men in green as they will look to get back on track and will look to avoid relegation.

Published: Mon Feb 05, 2018 01:39 PM IST

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