Churchill Brothers are keen to extend the lead at the top and increase the pressure on their title rivals as they take on a Pune FC at the Nehru Stadium, Fatorda on Wednesday.
Churchill enjoy a clear two point lead at the top over Dempo Sports Club and a three point advantage over East Bengal at the top of the table. But with Churchill’s rivals encountering difficult games in the eleventh round, Churchill are keen to tighten the noose around their rivals’ neck.
“We have to continue winning and pile the pressure. To be honest, we too are under pressure to secure a win and stay at the top. These are early days but the points which we pick will be crucial,” said manager Danzie Ferrao.
The hosts had an amazingly free run against Shillong Lajong FC on their way to a 6-0 win in the last game. But the manager at least is under no illusion that Pune FC will allow them such liberties.
“Pune FC is an extremely difficult opponent. We are on our guard but I must add that we are brimming with confidence,” said the Churchill manager.
Gouramangi Singh, who missed the last match due to an injury, has still not recovered, prompting coach Manuel Gomes to continue with the same squad.
Pune FC had had a run of three successive wins before they were held to a frustrating draw by Mumbai FC in the last game. Derrick Pereira’s side have been resurgent since the return of striker Keita Mandjou, and with the confidence of pulling a remarkable win against Salgaocar Sports Club at Fatorda still fresh, will remain quietly confident.
A win for Pune FC will take their points tally to 18 and help them move two spots ahead in fifth position. That’s more than just plain motivation to create another surprise at a venue that is favoured by Pune in general and coach Derrick Pereira in particular.
Prayag United SC vs Shillong Lajong:
Both Prayag United and Lajong SC will be going into Wednesday’s I-League encounter aiming to bounce back into contention.
Prayag United who were headed towards the top of the table just two weeks back, have seen a recent slump in form and look forward to the Lajong match as a re-launching pad at the Salt Lake Stadium. Prayag stay on 17 points from 10 matches while Lajong are on 12 points from the same number of matches.
Prayag coach Sanjoy Sen who has been a revelation with his tactical acumen said: “Lajong are a very fit side and are capable of taking any team for a ride. We need to be cautious.” He wasn’t willing to read much into Lajong’s 0-6 defeat against Churchill in their last match. “This is a marathon league. Any team can have an off-day. Moreover, the result of the last match stays irrelevant.”
“We aim to get 9 points from our remaining 3 matches in the first round and move up the table,” he added.
Lajong who had a short practice session at the Salt Lake Stadium also stay keen tomove ahead from their drubbing in their last match. “Prayag are a compact team. We have to plan accordingly,” commented coach Pradhyum Reddy.
Meanwhile, Prayag will welcome back Lalkamal Bhowmick and Deepak Mondol who missed previous ties due to injuries while Jayanta Sen and Kayne Vincent are out of the clash serving suspensions.
The kick-off is at 2pm.