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Champions upbeat before I-League opener

sports Updated: Sep 30, 2009 23:56 IST
Gordon D’Costa
Gordon D’Costa
Hindustan Times
Churchill Brothers

Defending champions Churchill Brothers are not ready to rest on their laurels. The I-League, IFA Shield and the Durand Cup bagged, the Goa club are now keen on putting up yet another good show against Mahindra United in the opening match of the third edition of this competition at the Cooperage ground on Thursday.

“We have been playing to our strengths and hope to carry on the good work with another good showing tomorrow,” coach Carlos Perreira said, after the team’s practice session on Wednesday evening.

Despite playing away, Churchill Brothers look favourites. And Mahindra United’s English coach David Booth is aware of that. “Churchill are a great team. They won the I-League just a few months ago and last month won two titles. So we will have to be on our toes,” Booth said.

Booth has had the opportunity to try out various combinations in the IFA Shield and Durand Cup, producing mixed results. Though it remains to be seen how they take to the I-League, much could rest on the forward duo of Muritala Ali and Mohammed Rafi.

Churchill, though have little to tinker with. They can draw confidence from skipper Okolie Odafa, who has been in sublime form, scoring eight goals from seven matches this season. New Asian player Dan Ito of Japan also is expected to start in the middle.

Perreira mentioned that his boys are in good spirits and winning the two titles has motivated them to do better.

Mahindra United’s Sushant Mathew, who can play both in the midfield and defence, is a doubtful starter. But coach Booth is not worried about missing him. “Sushant (Mathew) has a side strain. I am sure that the replacement will do an equally good job,” said Booth.