After running into a slump of form, title-aspirants Neroca FC runs into an in-form Churchill Brothers as the red Machines are set to host the Manipuri outfit at the Tilak Maidan in Goa.
Gift Raikhan’s Neroca has suffered back-to-back defeats against Shillong Lajong (0-2) and Minerva Punjab FC (0-1) with both the losses coming at their home ground.
They have now traveled to Goa to face Churchill Brothers who have won three games in a row and look like a formidable unit at their home.
“The pressure will be on both teams. Because when you go out on the field, the pressure is on both teams to get the points,” Churchill Brothers coach Alfred Fernandes said in the pre-match press conference held today.
When counting the last four matches, Churchill Brothers’ three-game winning streak is only bettered by table-toppers Minerva Punjab FC who have won all four of their games.
The Red Machines are quickly climbing up the ladder and a win on Tuesday will see them leapfrog Indian Arrows, Gokulam FC and Chennai City and into the sixth place.
“They will come out all guns blazing against us and they will bring something extra tomorrow. We have to be on guard and we are prepared for that”, Alfred said while hinting that he could field the same team that secured three straight victories.
As for the Manipuri side, the other teams are slowly catching up with them. A victory would not only help them to keep pace with Minerva Punjab, it will also give some breathing space against their direct rivals like Kingfisher East Bengal, Mohun Bagan, and Aizawl FC.
“Yes, it is a must-win game. There is pressure on us because we don’t want to lose the game. If we lose three matches continuously then it is not good for the future. But we need to go on. We want to win and we will work hard for three points or maybe one point. Churchill is a good team,” Neroca FC coach Gift Raikhan said.
When Shillong Lajong ended their nine-match unbeaten run, it looked as if they put the handbrakes on Raikhan’s men and they failed to get going against Minerva Punjab FC as well.
We lost because of bad luck I can say. Against Minerva, we conceded within two minutes. After that, we dominated the game. We got chances but we could not score. It was a bad game for us. Because of that, the match tomorrow may be very strong for us,” Raikhan added.
Neroca midfielder Saran Singh echoed the sentiment of his coach.
“We cannot win all the games. Even big teams lose. That is football. Now we have to come back stronger,” Singh said. But Churchill Brothers are brimming with confidence and their forward Koffi Mechec feels they are as good as anybody. “We are confident that we can beat anybody in the league,” confidence was echoing rightly in Mechec’s voice.
The match is scheduled late at 08:00 PM and it’ll be televised on Star Sports 2/2 HD and will be streamed live on Hotstar and Jio TV.