Mandala Stadium, Jayapura
25th February , 2014
Federation Cup winners and defending I-League champions Churchill Brothers travel to Indonesia to take on Indonesia Super League champions Persipura Jayapura in first match-day of AFC Cup 2014. Alongside Churchill and Persipura Jayapura, Maldives champions New Radiant SC and Singapore side Home United make the group E of AFC Cup 2014.
Team News And Tactical Brief
Coached by Jacksen F. Tiago, the home side will come into the match looking for a win. The Black Pearl as they are popularly called are currently placed at the second spot in the Eastern Zone of the 2014 Indonesian Super League having won 2 of their 5 matches they have played this season. Under Tiago, the club has won three domestic titles in the last five years and are now fancying their chances at the continental level
South Korean Yoo Jae-Hoon is the first choice goalkeeper in the team and the 30 year old, who is into his fourth year with the club is expected to start under the bar. Ghanaian defender Bio Paulin , who has been with the club since 2007, will lead the defense and the 29 year old is also a threat from the set-pieces. 23 year old Indonesian international Andri Ibo is expected to partner him in the heart of the defense. The duo will be entrusted with the task of keeping Balwant Singh and Lagos under check. Ronny E. Beroparay and Dominggus Fakdawer are expected to complete the four man defense.
South Korean defensive midfielder Lim Joon-Sik is expected to lead the charge for the hosts in the center of the park and his duel with Shabana could prove decisive in the outcome of the match.Ian Luis Kabes is expected to start on the left flank and comes into the match in a rich vein of form having scored three goals in the five league games 27 year old Indonesian international Ruben Sanadi will line up on the right of the midfield. Gerald Pangkali completes the four man midfield for Persipura. Pangkali has been with the club since 2008 and has earned over 100 caps.
Lukas Mandowen, who has scored two goals this season, and Yustinus Pae are the two strikers expected to start the match for the hosts. The duo have been together at the club since 2010 and have developed an understanding among themselves. Club legend and skipper Boaz Solossa who has scored over 120 goals for the club made his return form injury in his club’ s last game. The Indonesian international is expected to play some part in this game in the second half. Persipura will look to take advantage of Churchill’ s unsettled defense which will miss Denzil Franco as well and score as many goals as possible.
Expected Starting XI: Jae-Hoon; Ronny E. Beroparay, Bio Paulin, Andri Ibo, Dominggus Fakdawer; Ruben Sanadi, Gerald Pangkali, Lim Joon-Sik, Ian Luis Kabes; Yustinus Pae, Lukas Mandowen.
The season began on a wrong note for the defending I-League champions and the club found itself at the bottom of the I-League after 16 rounds but the Goan giants made a remarkable turnaround winning the Federation Cup. Since winning the Federation Cup, Churchill Brothers have won against in I-League besides drawing against Kolkata giants Mohun Bagan and East Bengal at their den.
Lalit Thapa has consolidated his position as the first choice goalkeeper displacing courtesy impressive performances in the Federation Cup and the I-League after that. Dharmaraj Ravanan who was the top performer in the match against East Bengal will lead the defense and new recruit Daniell Zeleny is likely to accompany him in the central defense. Denzil Franco has been in impressive form throughout the season but has not traveled with team due to personal reasons and it remains to be seen how the team copes up in his absence. Saran Singh is expected to take his place while experienced Raju Yumnam will start of the opposite flank.
Egyptian midfielder Abdelhamid Shabana showed his class in the Federation cup and he will be looking to stamp his authority at the continental level. Shabana is the main source of creativity in the team and his combination with Balwant and Wolfe has evolved nicely over time. Skipper Lenny Rodrigues is expected to provide the defensive screen ahead of the back four and the Indian international will have to put his best foot forward to stop Persipura Jayapura’ s attacks. Antony Wolfe, the Trinidad and Tobago World Cupper is expected to start on the right flank. Despite a slow start to his I-League career, Wolfe has settled down well in the team and has dropped deep to initiate attacks for the team. Bineesh Balan may be seen on the left flank for the Red Machines.
The attack will be led by one of the most in-form strikers in Indian Football at the moment – Balwant Singh. The JCT academy product has looked comfortable both on and off the ball and his worked hard for his goals. Costa Rica international Cristian Lagos who made his debut for Churchill Brothers three matches ago is expected to start alongside Balwant upfront. Lagos showed his class after coming on as a substitute against Bagan and will have a crucial role to play in this match.
Expected Starting XI: Lalit Thapa; Saran Singh, Daniell Zeleny, Dharmaraj Ravanan, Raju Yumnam; Anthony Wolfe, Lenny Rodrigues, Abdelhameed Shabana, Bineesh Balan; Balwant Singh, Cristian Lagos.
Players To Watch Out For
Ian Luis Kabes(Persipura Jayapura)
A veteran of over 120 matches, Ian Luis Kabes is arguably the most important player in the Persipura Jayapura team and will look to add to his tally against an a relatively unsettled Churchill defense. The Churchill defense will have to be on his toes to mark him and his battle with Dharmaraj Ravanan could go on to decide the outcome of this match.
Balwant Singh (Churchill Brothers)
With 8 goals in I-League this season Balwant Singh has been knocking on the doors of the national team and he showed his class against Mohun Bagan when he scored two world class goals. While the first one was a brilliant header , the second one was an unstoppable volley from the edge of the box. Balwant would be eager to carry on the momentum and prove himself at the continental level against tougher opponents.
Persipura Jayapura 2-1 Churchill Brothers
Churchill’ s main goal this season is to avoid relegation this season and the AFC Cup is not likely to be their priority. Both teams don’t have the best of defenses; have some good attacking players and hence would like to score as many goals as possible. TheHardTackle predicts Persipura Jayapura to take advantage of the home advantage and scrape a 2-1 win.