I-League: Holders Aizawl favourites against Churchill (Preview)
Aizawl, Dec 12 (IANS) Defending champions Aizawl FC will be favourites against low-key Churchill Brothers in their first home fixture of this I-League football season here on Wednesday.
On their way to clinching the title, Aizawl FC scored six goals and conceded only two goals against Churchill Brothers last season, collecting maximum points against the Goan side.
Aizawl’s Portuguese coach Paul Menezes reiterated that they will try to retain their title and they will fight for three points in every match.
Speaking at the pre-match press conference Menezes said, “We will play the way we played in the Mizoram Premier League. Sometimes we have to defend we cannot attack the opponents all the time.”
He added, “Several key players have left us but I hope we can form a strong team this season. After collecting one point against East Bengal I expect three points against Churchill Brothers.”
“Andrei is our focal point in attack and it is a good thing that he will be available against Churchill. ” Menezes added.
Highlighting the importance of Aizawl’s captain and key midfielder Alfred Jaryan said, “Last season was a great one and the fans played their part too. We will try to replicate last season’s form and will give our best in every game. We play for the club, fans and also most important Mizoram.”
Two-time I-League champions Churchill haven’t had a decent start to the season, having lost two of their opening matches against Shillong Lajong and Mohun Bagan. The Goan team, coached by Ukrainian coach Mykola Shevchenko, is yet to score their first goal this season while conceding seven goals.
Shevchenko who has played for Churchill earlier is optimistic that his team will gain the much-needed confidence against Aizawl FC.
A centre-back in his playing days, Shevchenko said: “We have lost two straight matches and I hope we can develop and change as a team tomorrow. We came with a new mindset hoping to regain our confidence. We have travelled a lot these days and this makes it harder for the player’s recovery but injuries is part and parcel of the game.”
Sikkimese Churchill forward Uttam Rai said, “I am having a lot of injuries these few months and its hard to cope with the mental effects but I have always worked hard for the team and I want to develop as a player.”
Churchill will want to leave Aizawl with flying colours as three points against Aizawl FC will lift them above the relegation zone. However, Aizawl garnered 25 points from a possible 27 points last season at the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium.