After losing some of the key players such as Gouramangi Singh, Arindham Bhattacharya and Lalrindika Ralte many pundits had written off Churchill Brothers early on but their performance in the Federation Cup and ongoing I-League has garnered them many praises. TheHardTackle looks at the journey of Churchill Brothers so far in the I-League and analyses their team.

Churchill Brothers started their I-league campaign against the defending champions Dempo sports club and even though they lost this match 2-1; they dominated major proceeding of the match. Beto was impressive in the match while  new recruits Lebanese international defender the Bilal Najjarin and striker Akram Moghrabi made their debut in this match. Churchill then went on to demolish ONGC 5-0 in their second match as Akram Moghrab scored a hat-trick

Churchill Brother after a clinical display in the previous match went on to play against the Mumbai FC. Mumbai based club was low on confidence after a series of losses. Churchill brothers took advantage of the poor form of Mumbai FC winning the match 3-1. Churchill Brothers next travelled to the Pune to play their first away match of the league. They dominated the whole match but lacked the finishing touch to put the ball back of the net. Despite Pune being 10 minute down when Pune defender Caitano Costa was send off for a professional foul it took injury time for Churchill brothers to score the winner. Beto scored the goal through the spot kick.

Star Player Beto will be pivotal this season.

Churchill Brothers blanked an out of form Salgaocar 3-0 in  the Goan derby before hoisting  East Bengal in match that was billed to be of extreme importance for both the teams. Churchill brother went down rather easily and lost the match 0-3. For the first time in the whole season Churchill brothers looked out of ideas . After the disgraceful of loss Churchill brothers against the East Bengal traveled to the shilling. In the unfavorable condition and home crowd supporting the host, Churchill brothers played with a purpose. They were passing the ball nicely.  Shillong Lajong FC played with a lot of heart to put pressure on the Churchil land in an evenly contested match where draw could have been a favourable result for both the teams Lebanese Striker Akram Mogrhabi came up with a super finish to collect 3 crucial points for the team.

Churchill Brother next travelled to the Kolkata to play against high spenders Prayag United. In what was expected to be a keenly contested match Churchill Brothers outplayed the Prayag United in all departments of the play. At one point Churchill was having comfortable 2 goal lead where they could have added more goals to the tally but Beto sending off in last half an hour of the game gave Prayag opportunity to score the consolation goal. The battle between Billal Najjarin and Prayag united top scorer Ranty Martin was a delight to watch. The Lebanese defender shadowed the Nigerian goal poacher in the whole game. The two youngsters Israil Gurung and Bikramjeet Singh scored the goals for the Red Machines After the improved performance Churchill travelled to Gangtok to play against newly promoted side United Sikkim. This match was expected to be any easy win but spirited performance of the united Sikkim goal keeper Monotosh Ghosh denied Churchill Brother 3 points.

Dissecting The Team

The new Lebanese Hit Man

The Churchill Brothers head coach Mariano Dias and the technical director Subhash Bhowmick will be pleased with the performance given by the players. The younger players drafted in team certainly have made their presence felt. The mixture of seniors and juniors in the team has been the USP of this fast improving team. After losing Aridam Bhattacharya to the Mohun Bagan the new recruit veteran goalkeeper Sandeep Nandy has been brilliant between the sticks. He has shown leadership quality at the back and has organized the defense pretty well. Filex D’Souza is another experience goal keeper in the team who can provide his services to the team when needed.

Other than match against East Bengal defence have looked solid. Newly signed Lebanese International Center back Billal Najjarin has marshaled defended pretty well. He along with the Dharmaraj Ravanan have been rock solid at the back. India International Denzil Franco has been instrumental as wing beck occasionally supporting the team in the attacks. Raju Yumnum has been consistent with his performance. Churchill Brothers have good young defenders in form of Thagjam Singh, Gurtej Singh and Dennis Fernandes who can come handy in crucial games.

One of the reasons of the Churchill Brothers’ impressive performance has been their midfield. They have provided good support for the defenders and for the strikers going up front. Brazilian midfielder Beto has been thorn in flash for a rival team. His creativity in the heart of the midfield has been the difference for the Churchill brothers.  Tomba Singh’s  nippy runs have added an extra bite to the Churchill Midfield. Seasoned Professional  Indian internationals Lenny Rodriquez and Steven Dias have played well for the cause of the team.

The Red Machines this season

Youngsters in teams such as Israel Gurung, Bikramjeet Singh and Richard Costa have shown that they can perform on the big stage if even given the opportunity. The Churchill Brothers Midfield looks to be a good blend of youngsters and seniors and as a result Churchill Brothers have been one of the high goal scoring team in the league. The new recruit Lebonese international striker Akram Mograbhi has been in sensational form and after some excellent performance from the striker Mariano Dias has been force to drop regular Gabonese International striker Henry Antchuet to drop to the bench.

The real test of the Red Machines will be upcoming AFC Cup 2013. After I league champions the Dempo SC pulled out from the competition Churchill Brothers got the opportunity to taste football at continental level. This is their second appearance in the competition. They are placed in Group E with Hong Kong league champion  Kitchee, Indonesian league champions Semen Pedang and Singapore Cup winners Singapore Armed forces. This is the first time when an I-league club has been placed in east zone and this is very good opportunity for the clubs to make it through knock out stages. Churchill Brothers technical director Subhash Bhowmick is well aware about the fact that they have to balance AFC Cup and I-league and rotate the players properly to avoid the risk of injuries. With all things going well for the club Red Machines will like to add a trophy to their cabinet this season.

 Written by Guest Author Ashlesh Ajgaonkar. Follow the Author on Twitter