The Red Machines are currently eighth in the league, followed by the Reds who are just a place below them.
The Tilak Maidan in Goa’s Vasco Da Gama, will play host to Churchill Brothers FC’s first home game of the 12th Hero I-League season, when the local giants take on Shillong Lajong on Thursday, November 15, 2018. The game kicks off at 5 PM.
Churchill will be seeking their first win, after creditably remaining unbeaten on the road so far in three games and against some top sides. Shillong, who, after a bright start are on a three-game losing spree, will have their task cut out, given their young all-Indian squad, will be playing their third consecutive away game and have been on the road for the past two weeks.
Churchill also lead the head-to-head stats 6-3 with three other games ending in draws. However, in the last two Hero I-League editions, Lajong have won two of the four games with one ending in a draw.
The home side’s Romanian coach Petra Gigiu will be a relieved man after a 10-man Churchill managed to come away with a point from the chilly conditions in Kashmir, following a goalless draw, but his major worry will also be the fact that this is the only side to have played two goalless draws in the league. His striking mainstays, Dawda Ceesay and Willis Deon Plaza have obviously not fired, but they have made up for a lack of goals through sheer grit.
That grit was in the fore against league leaders Chennai when they went behind initially, only to fight back and even go ahead briefly, before drawing even against one of the most dominant sides of the league.
Petra Gigiu, Churchill’s Romanian coach, was in a jovial mood on the eve of the match, saying, “I am happy because we didn’t lose but also not happy because we could have won a minimum of two of those games. Churchill Brothers will get better step by step in every game. I am happy because we played good and we created many opportunities to score. Hope tomorrow will be revenge time for my strikers and they will score to win the game.”
Shillong, on the other hand, after an impressive opening game win on home ‘turf’ against Aizawl, have only gone downhill. Their slide began at home against a more accomplished Quess East Bengal, followed by an uninspiring loss to the Indian Arrows before finally being overwhelmed by Gokulam Kerala at Kozhikode.
They would be yearning to return home with some good news in the bag and would be looking to coach Alison Khasytiew and captain and midfielder Samuel Lalmuanpuia for inspiration and leadership. They did finally show some spark in the Gokulam game, as they finished strongly. The move that involved Sheen and finally had Buam get one back, reiterated the potential the side possessed and was in ample display in their opening clash
“We are here to win every match,” said a confident Alison in the pre-game chat. The Shillong gaffer went on to say,” Every game is difficult. Churchill Brothers is an experienced team so we need to take care of our attacking line. They have home advantage but we are looking forward to playing a good game. We have a young squad and they are pumped up for tomorrow’s game.”
If nothing, the visitors have scored exactly the double the number of goals as their Thursday hosts and it can make for an entertaining game of football.
The Red Machines do not have any major injury concerns going into the game.
Lajong defender Kenstar Kharshong picked up an injury in their previous game against Gokulam Kerala. The Reds will also miss out on the services of Novin Gurung who was awarded a red card by the referee against Gokulam.
Churchill Brothers: Kithan (GK), Vaz, Eldor, Novakovic, Plaza, Ceesay, Gurung, Aucho, Gou, Costa, Mohanraj
Shillong Lajong: Neithovilie (GK), Pradhan, Lalrohlua, Sohktung, Lyngdoh, Mahesh, Buam, Rabha, Hnamte, Dohling, Meban
The game will be telecasted live at 5 PM on Thursday on Star Sports 3 along with Hotstar and Jio TV.