The Churchill manager also refuted speculation of former striker Odafa Okolie rejoining the club…

Churchill Brothers made their comeback in Indian top tier football and kick-started their I-League campaign with a narrow 1-0 defeat against Kolkata giants Mohun Bagan at Barasat Stadium yesterday. Churchill were without their full squad of players as their foreigners could not be available for the fixture against Bagan.

One of Churchill’s veteran players and a leader in the dressing room, Clifford Miranda played a bit on the sloppy side but the Churchill coach seemed convinced with his performance on the pitch last night. “He fulfilled his potential in the given time,” said Fernandes to the reporters in the post-match conference.

In the absence of his full squad Fernandes opted to start defensively and play on the counter-attack. Churchill skipper Keenan Almeida kept the Red Machines’ defense calm and composed but was forced to come out of the pitch following bleeding from his head injury, received earlier in the match. Brandon Fernandes, the Indian prodigy who joined the Churchill side earlier this year from Mohun Bagan put up a convincing performance but could not change the flow of the match, courtesy of Bagan’s defensive trio of Anas Edathodika, Kingshuk Debnath and Subhasish Bose.

Fernandes was asked about the current foreign players’ situation of the club when he revealed Anthony Wolfe is expected to be available from the second or third match of the season while he could not comment on the others. The coach was also asked about the ongoing rumor of Odafa Okolie signing for his former club when he replied, “From where are these rumors coming?” “He is an ex-player. There is just that,” Fernandes further added.

After Keenan’s substitution, Churchill’s defense looked disorganized as Mohun Bagan kept launching more and more counter-attacks. However, the coach dismissed the prospect of any such aspect straight away when asked.

Churchill Brothers will play against Mumbai FC on 15th January at Tilak Maidan stadium, Goa.