Balewadi Stadium, Pune
March 12, 2013
Indonesian Football was marred by many off the field incidents last year. Players unpaid salaries prevented Indonesian football to grow upto their potential and it prevented them from making progress. Along with the salaries several other problems such as internal conflicts, parallel competitions were also hampering the growth of Indonesian football. Putting their past into bed, Semen Padang has started brilliantly in this years’ AFC cup and marked their arrival in style with an impressive 3-1 win over Singapore Armed forces (Warriors FC). With a win under their belt already the Indonesians will be travelling to India high on confidence to take on a Churchill Brothers side faltering in confidence.
Churchill Brothers has been faltering recently after a good start in I-League. The loss of Bilal and Akram has dented Churchill Brothers confidence to some extent and they couldn’t register a win in their last 3 outings in I-League. This form was carried to AFC Cup as they started with a disappointing 3 goals loss against Kitchee FC.
Churchill Brothers got this opportunity to participate in AFC Cup when Dempo refused to play their home games outside Goa. So Churchill’s first main task will be to get the crowd into ‘Balewadi Stadium, Pune‘ for their encounter against Indonesian Champions Semen Padang. Mariano Das coached side will have a much tougher task on pitch when they will come against an inform team who have had four successive wins under their belt.
Sporting Lisbon Loanee and Indian Captain Sunil Chettri has finally found his goal-scoring boots after returning to India. Churchill Brothers will be pinning their hopes on the prolific striker to give them a head start in a fixture of this magnitude. His experience and movement are going to be vital in taking the game to the Indonesians, something the home team is expected to do even if they are playing in Pune.
In midfield Lenny Rodriguez will be eager to impress the pundits after getting the stick in India’s AFC Challenge cup qualifiers. The tall lanky midfielder was not upto the mark this season and was marred by some inconsistent displays in the middle of the park. He is facing some stiff competition for his place in the national team and Lenny needs to get his act together or should forget about making that spot his own. Beto is the driving force in this Churchill Brothers team and the foreigner has the knack of chipping in with crucial goals and assists. Beto’s absence was sorely felt during the defeat against Kitchee FC and his return is expected to boost the morale ahead of this crucial encounter. Steven Dias was once labelled as the Indian Bekham but he is now nearing the end of a good career. Still his deliveries pose that perfection and guile which makes him a key part of the jigsaw.
Defender Denzil Franco is another player who is facing a severe challenge for his spot in the national team and will come under scrutiny in this game. He will be hoping to shut his critics with a good performance as many believes he was the one who let down the Indian defense in the recent outing against Myanmar. If Denzil was lucky to play, Ravanan was unlucky to miss out the flight. He has been playing well and will be hoping to impress the national coach and selection panel to make a place of his own in the ‘Blue Tigers‘ camp.
Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Sandip Nandy, Denzil, Ravanan, Tamba, Raju; Steven, Lenny, Beto, Belal; Chhetri, Henri;
Semen Padang – The champions of Indonesia visit India with their confidence and morale sky high. They tasted their first victory on Asian level in their first outing and will be hoping to add another scalp in the form of Churchill Brothers. Semen Padang will have the psychological edge as their last four outings were victories when compared to their opponents win-less streak in domestic league.
Jafri Sastark coached side Semen Padang will be riding in confidence after a debut win and another win here can put them in a safe state to progress towards the next round. Knowing the fact Churchill Brothers will be their direct competitors, Semen Padang will not be ready to give any favors to the hosts. Indonesians made the best use of the familiar conditions in their opener and it remains to be seen how they adapt to different conditions on their travel abroad.
League winning Goalkeeper Syamsidar has went in search of pastures new after their success, so Jandia Eka Putra will be manning their posts for this tie. Indonesian internationals Hengky Ardiles and Wahyu Wijiastanto will have the main task of cutting out the opposition attack. Center Back Wahyu Wijiastanto is very good in the air and will be a an additional attacking threat in set piece situations. In the absence of injured defender David Pagbe, they will have a much tougher job of keeping the Indians quite.
Argentine midfielder Esteban Gabriel Vizcarra will be the main threat for the visiting Indonesians. He is a crafty midfielder who can dictate the terms on the field and much will be expected of him on Semen Padang’s first visit to India. His creativity, control, passing and shooting powers will be crucial to his sides chances when playing in the number 10 role. Another key contributor in the side is 23 year old goal-scoring midfielder Vendry Mofu who is slowly establishing himself as a regular in the Indonesian National team. Korean Yoon Hyun Koo will partner him in the center midfield and the trio’s performance in the middle of the park will be key to retaining possession and controlling the tempo of the game.
Liberion Striker Edward Wilson and his Indonesian counterpart Mohammed Nur Iskander has already found their way into the back of the net unlike the opposition and would be hoping to add more goals to there tally. Edward Wilson can be a major threat to the opposition and his impeccable record of scoring 61 goals in 86 appearances for Semen Padang is a true justification of the threat posed by the foreigner but his absence will be sorely felt as he has missed the trip due to an injury. In the absence of Edward Wilson former Persipura Jayapura striker Titus Bonai is likely to lead the line supported by Vizcarra. The young star of Indonesia, is small, fast, strong and has scored goals in AFC cup before and is likely to ask more questions of Churchill Brothers slow defence.
Probable Lineup (4-4-1-1): Jandia Eka Putra; Hengky Ardiles, Wahyu Wijiastanto, Novan Setya Sasongko, Saepuloh Maulana; Elie Aiboy, Hendra Adi Bayauw, Yoo Hyun Goo, Vendry Mofu; Esteban Vizcarra; Titus Bonai
Player To Watch Out For
Sunil Chettri (Churchill Brothers)
Churchill Brothers hopes will be relying on Sunil Chettri to lead from the front. Indian skipper is on a mission to get his career back after it was stalled in Portugal. He has got the much needed playing time in AFC Challenge cup qualifiers and in the Goa professional league also. With goals under his belt, the diminutive forward will be looking continue the good work he has after his return. Sunil Chettri looks a completely different player when on song and an early goal can help him to live upto the expectations as the nations best player.
Elie Aiboi (Semen Padang)
The leader of the pack is Elie Aiboi, the winger who can occupy both the flanks will be a major weapon for the visitors. Even though age is not on his side, his experience will be vital and he is expected to pose a major threat to the Churchill defense, with his clever deliveries and link up play. Also, he will be tough man to mark as he will be constantly swapping the wings with Hendra Adi Bayauw and their interchanging of positions will be tough to track as well. Elie Aiboi is not expected to complete the 90 minutes due to the lack of stamina and fitness levels, but Churchill Brothers should keep a closer look on him to keep things under check while he is on the pitch.
Churchill Brothers 2-1 Semen Padang
The focus will be clearly on the hosts to perform out of their skin to keep their continental campaign alive. Churchill Brothers are expected to come all guns blazing, but they do not have the fitness levels to keep the same level of intensity for 90 minutes. The absence of key players in the Semen Padang has tilted the tie in Churchill Brothers favour, still the tie is too close to call. The inexperience of playing abroad might be another short coming for the visitors, but they are expected to fight till the final whistle before succumbing to the hosts in the smallest of margins.