National Stadium, Male
The story of Churchill Brothers never seizes to amaze. The club is on the brink of relegation, and is plying its trade in one of the most coveted continental football tournaments in India- the AFC Cup. The Red Machines travel to Maldives for their penultimate match against New Radiant SC at the National Stadium in Male.
Currently the goan side is slotted at the second place in the group E table with seven points garnered from five games played so far. Singapore’s Home United also flaunts the same number of points in the table, but is pegged back to the third place due to the head to head record. With pride on stake for New Radiant, the Maldives club will surely be in no mood to take this tie lightly, keeping in mind that they were humbled by the goans in reverse fixture earlier. Churchill Brothers would be focussing on their crucial game and winning it. The club would qualify for the Knock out phase if they win this match and other results become irrelevant.
Team News And Tactical Brief
New Radiant SC (Maldives)
The Blues signed off the recently concluded domestic season with a remarkable 100% win record- winning an appalling four major trophies in 2013. With no domestic action this year, Coach Simon McMenemy would have had bright ideas around this year’s edition of the AFC Cup, but his side has failed to hoard enough victories and are now staring at the exit door.
Both the players and the coaching staff would love to end this edition with a win and eventually ruin the Goan party. Md. Imran is expected to start under the bars at home, and the captain would be hoping to keep the errors at bay, after the horror mistake in the last match against Home United. Stoppers Abdulla Ahmad, Ghanaian Quartey, Ahmed Shafiu and Md. Rasheed are all expected to be retained from the last match, forming the back line.
In the middle of the park, young prodigy Niyaz Ahmed will be treading the right flank, with Oppo playing the anchor role, just in front of the back four. Aku is expected to pull the strings from the middle with Qasim Shamweel attacking from the left.
Quite evidently, The Blues from Male are missing their star striker Ashfaq Ali, who was let go after the last years exit from the same competition. The side has only managed to create half chances with strikers struggling to get past good defenses. The striking department will be spearheaded by the duo of Md. Umair and Ali Fasir. The team has managed to hit the back of the net only once in five games, a glaring growth area for the team and management.The team has lost four matches on the trot after an opening day win. The side has no chance to qualify for the second round, but a gritty performance is everything what the loyal supporters would be hoping for.
Expected Starting XI: Imran Mohammed; Ahmed Abdulla, Ahmed Shafiu, Quatrey, Mohammed Rasheed; Aku, Oppo, Ahmed Niyaz, Shamweel Qasim; Ali Fasir, md. Umair.
Churchill Brothers SC (India)
The Red Machines from Goa could be guilty of anything in this game but complacency. The future of the team lies in its own hands and a win today in Male could see them march into the knock out rounds. Despite the bleak weather in the domestic league, Mariano Dias’ side has been more than decent in their group matches. Some of the key players have been left out from the travelling list, owing to the massive game coming up against Salgaocar in the I-League. Subash Bhowmick and Mariano Dias have clearly prioritized their target this season.
Churchill Brothers is expected to throw in a team which has a correct mixture of experience and new faces. Lalit Thapa will be starting in the goal, with Naveen Kumar and Denzil Franco on the left and the right flank respectively. Raju Yamnum hasn’t travelled with the team ergo Sanjay will be playing as the stopper with Aussie Zeleny. With the club vice captain Ravanan also available for this one, it would be interesting to see if could be slotted at the center back position instead of Sanjay.
Midfield will miss the services of Shabana, who got sent off in the last I-League match, along with Jaison Valles and India international Balwant Singh. Midfeild battle will be resumed by the young lads Asley Fernandes and Saran Singh. Both of them would be shouldering the responsibility of orchestrating the majority of the moves. Asley will be the attacking forward in the mix. Dias and Churchill brothers need a win out of this game and it wouldn’t be surprising if Asley starts ahead of Saran in the midfield.
It is the strike force which has been so effective for the Red Machines so far. Both Balwant Singh and Anthony Wolfe have been crossing swords with the opponents’ defence and usually have come up with trumps.
Expected Starting XI: Lalit Thapa; Denzil Franco, Daniell Zeleny, Dharmaraj Ravanan, Naveen Kumar; , Lenny Rodrigues, Saran Singh, Asley; Bineesh Balan, Anthony Wolfe.
Players To Watch Out For
Mohamad Imran (New Radiant SC)
The captain could be influential if his side manage to pick some points from this fixture. Keeping the dismal personal performance at bay, Imran would be hoping teh rock the goan boast with crucial saves and interceptions. He has been vital earlier for the Blues and his grit could lift the team in front of the crowd.
Anthony Wolfe (Churchill Brothers)
Albiet Balwant Singh has been the silver lining for the club this season, Wolfe would be hoping that his goals help the Red Machines make history. The Trinidadian has always delivered when provided with a genuine feed from the midfeild and would be looking to make an impact.
New Radiant SC 0-1 Churchill Brothers
It will close encounter with Churchill clinching the tie with a solitary goal. Hitting the back of the net isn’t something which the hosts have been doing very often this year, which could once again prove to be their achillies heel . Churchill Brothers on the other hand have everything to play for and would eventually clinch the tie.