Hapless Minerva face determined Churchill in strategic clash
Both teams are in the quest to win the title this season.
Churchill Brothers FC of Goa take on champions Minerva Punjab at the Tilak Maidan in Vasco Da Gama on Saturday, January 5, 2019, with the home team going into the game as clear favourites on the back of their impressive attacking display till the halfway stage of the 12th Hero I-League.
The high voltage clash is scheduled for a 5 pm IST start.
When the two teams met in the initial stages of the league two months back, they played out a drab goalless draw and it was evident that a new team management was trying to find its footings.
Much water has flown under the bridge since then, with the Goans clearly establishing themselves as the most enterprising and mercurial side of the league after leaders Chennai with an attacking force in great form.
While Churchill have scored 17 and conceded 10 in their 10 games so far, Minerva have scored just six and conceded as many from the same number of games (10).
Willis Plaza for Churchill has been in imperious form this year, scoring nine goals so far, to lead the league’s scorer’s charts. But it is the support play of Dawda Cessay, Israel Gurung, Anthony Wolfe and the likes that have clearly helped them improve so much over last year.
Romanian coach Petre Gigiu, however, sounded a note of caution on match day eve saying, “Minerva is a good team and it will be difficult for us.”
Alluding to his missing injured players like key defenders Hussein Eldor and Wayne Vaz, the coach said, “Our team is not complete yet. Players have not returned yet. It will be very difficult for us to win, but we will try.”
Irishman Paul Munster, the Minerva coach who came on board this season, on the other hand, has tried several players and combinations along the campaign but has still not managed to find a way to get goals coming his way.
Said he in the pre-game chat, “We are looking forward to the match. Players have a plan and know what to expect from tomorrow’s game. We will be trying to work on their weaknesses. Obviously, we have played them and they are a good team. Especially with their attacking players, they will cause a threat. It is going to be a difficult game with a big physically strong team. My focus is on my team and how we are going to win the game. It is going to be a good fight.”
It remains to be seen how things work out for Minerva, but unless they find goals, it is going to be difficult for them to get out of their mid-table position soon. Churchill, on the other hand, are looking good to go all the way.
The Red Machines will have Hussein Eldor back against Minerva Punjab in the game. Wayne Vaz is expected to be on the bench in the fixture.
Minerva Punjab FC
The Warriors do not have any major injuries currently and are looking forward to the game.
Churchill Brothers- Kithan (GK), Rodrigues, Novakovic, Eldor, Mohanraj, Wolfe, Costa, Aucho, Hangshing, Ceesay, Plaza
Minerva Punjab FC- Bhaskar (GK), Joshi, Toure, Rodriguez, Devrani, Arashpreet, Amandeep, Thoiba, Opoku, Chote, Njoku, Dahir
The game kicks off at 5 PM IST on Saturday at Tilan Maidan in Goa. The game will be streamed live on Hotstar and Jio TV.
Published: Fri Jan 04, 2019 08:25 PM IST