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I-League: New-look Churchill Brothers hope to end Gokulam Kerala’s fairytale run

The 3-2 win that Churchill Brothers recorded against Gokulam Kerala in January had helped them turn around their I-League season. The Goan club was beginning to climb up the ladder with a string of wins before hitting a rough patch which saw them lose three straight games.

football Updated: Feb 23, 2018 19:48 IST
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India, Vasco
I-League,Churchill Brothers S.C.,Gokulam Kerala
Churchill Brothers take on Gokulam Kerala in the I-League on Saturday. (AIFF )

A new-look Churchill Brothers will have their task cutout as they take on giant-killers Gokulam FC with an aim to end their winning run in the I-League on Saturday.

The two come face-to-face at Churchill’s home turf, the Tilak Maidan, in an evening fixture.

The 3-2 victory that Churchill Brothers recorded in the reverse fixture in January had helped them turn around their season. The Goan club was beginning to climb up the ladder with a string of wins before hitting a rough patch which saw them lose three straight games.

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“We are in such a position that the reputation of the club and the players are at stake. We are in a hole which we ourselves have created. All the remaining three matches are literally like final for us,” Churchill Brothers coach Alfred Fernandes said on the eve of the match.

The deflating defeat against Indian Arrows was followed by losses against Neroca FC and Chennai City.

“The three games were a lesson to us and we know what we have to do now starting tomorrow,” Churchill captain Osagie Monday said.

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The former I-League champions are just one point above tenth-placed placed Indian Arrows who have suffered a shocking defeat to reigning champions Aizawl FC.

Meanwhile, Gokulam FC have hit the right chord at the right time and their five wins out of six in the last six rounds are one of the best in the division.

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In their last three matches against the top guns, they have beaten Mohun Bagan (1-2), East Bengal (2-1) and Minerva Punjab (0-1).

“Our first aim is to play a very good game here. We don’t have any pressure so we can play freely. We can put hundred percent in the matches,” Gokulam FC coach Bino George reflected.

The Kerala side have rocketed to the seventh place in the table with nineteen points from 15 matches.

“My target is that we badly need to play the Super Cup. I saw that in the last two-three matches, the boys have been giving their full effort. We came here, we will work hard and fight for the points. Churchill have always been a good side,” he added.

(Read | Indian Arrows’ Prabhsukhan Singh Gill hopes to raise the bar set by Dheeraj Singh)

There is still a lot left to play for Churchill as they are only three points adrift of Gokulam in the points table.

“Gokulam have been playing very good football. No wonder they have beaten all the big teams. It is very tough playing a team who are on song. But the boys are motivated,” Alfred suggested.

Gokulam coach conceded that his team is highly motivated.

“We badly need a team from Kerala. Now people have started following us. For the last six years, there has been no team from Kerala in the I-League. Kerala have a lot of good talented boys and this is a platform for them,” he said.

Alfred Fernandes shared that the club have roped in two new foreigners to stem the rot.

“Yes, we have got two new strikers to strengthen our attacking options. Siyo Zuniappo (Congo) and Francis Oneyama (Nigeria) have joined the team to replace Koffi Mechac and Kalu Ogba respectively.”

First Published: Feb 23, 2018 19:48 IST