CHURCHILL BROTHERS SC
Ninh Binh Stadium, Vietnam
Kick off- 15:30 IST
Churchill Brothers will be looking to start from where they left in the AFC Cup as the Red Machines travel to Vietnam to take on Vissai Ninh Binh in the first leg of their round of 16 face off at the Ninh Binh Stadium. Both sides are looking to create history in this crunch match.
Team News And Tactical Brief
Vissai Ninh Binh
The Vissai were unbeaten as they stormed into the round of 16 topping the group G. Just to add another feather in their cap of awesome performances in the group stages, it would be fair to mention that this was the sides’ debut in the continental cup. But since then, the club has been rocked by match fixing allegations. The aftermath has been inevitable and has dropped like a hammer on the club. Most of the foreign players and Vietnamese internationals in the squad, who obviously played a crucial role in the club’s remarkable journey in the group stages, have now joined other teams post the owners’ decision to withdraw from the local league. Head coach Van Sy has come out and asked his young and inexperienced squad to step up and be counted in this crucial encounter today.
Van Sy is virtually left with 15-16 players to prepare for this historic match for the club. Most of the players don’t even have V-League experience under their belt. The inexperience of the squad and the gravity of the match have led to old warhorse Van Quyen to come out of retirement and help his former side. The only foreigner in the squad – South Korean Sim Woon Sub will be partnering Phuoc Tu at the back. Van Phong will be retained in the goal and the collaborative experience of the aforementioned players from the group stages will be very vital in the outcome of this tie. Striking department will be spearheaded by Van Thang and Van Quyen.
Expected Starting Line-up: Van Phong(GK); Nguyen Minh Tung, Sim Woon Sub, Le Phuoc Tu, Le Quoc Huong; Le Van Vu, Nguyen Duc Linh, Tran Van Cuong, Hoang Danh Ngọc; Le Van Thang, Phạm Van Quyen.
Churchill Brothers SC
Churchill Brothers finished second in Group E behind Indonesia’s Persipura Jayapura to earn a spot in the Round of 16. This will be the Red Machines’ second appearance in the AFC Cup after having reached the same stage in 2010. Churchill Brothers somehow avoided the drop on the last day of the I-League, and now will be all geared up to up the ante.
The Goan club is also without some of their crucial players. Defender Sanjay Bulmuchu will be out due to suspension. Sanjay was sent off in the last group match in Maldives and would be serving the ban. Saran Singh and India international Lenny Rodrigues will also miss the plane to Vietnam. Returning to the squad, after missing the crucial last match against New Radiant, are striker Balwant Singh and Egyptian midfielder Shabana. Lalit Thapa will be once again expected to start under the bar, with Naveen Kumar and Ravanan marshalling the centre of defence. Striker Wolfe and Balwant Singh will be shouldering the responsibility of hitting the back of the net. The duo has been lethal so far for the Goan club in the competition. Apart from Shabana and Jaison Vales, it will be very interesting to see who Mariano Dias picks for the midfield duty.
Expected Starting line up: Lalit Thapa(GK); Denzil Franco, Naveen Kumar, Dharmaraj Ravanan, Raju Yumnam; Bineesh Balan, Abdelhamid Shabana, Micky Fernandes, Jaison Vales; Anthony Wolfe, Balwant Singh.
Players to Watch out for:
Sim Woon Sub (Vissai Ninh Binh )
The centre back is the only foreigner in the squad and with an inexperienced team expected to take the field. The south Korean has been sensational for the Vissai so far, and would be looking to lead by example when Churchill Brothers’ attackers com knocking at the door today.
Balwant Singh (Churchill Brothers)
The Hoshairpur lad probably scored one of his most important goal of the season on the last day of the season when he helped the Goan side to stay afloat in the top division. The sturdy striker is sitting on the top of his best seasons and will be looking to fire his club into the quarters for the second time in their history. His partnership with Wolfe has blossomed over the season for the Churchill brothers and his assists to his strike partner have also been healthy.
Vissai Ninh Binh 0-2 Churchill Brothers
Clearly, the inexperience of the squad could turn out to play a major role in this historic game for the hosts at the Ninh Binh Stadium. Churchill Brothers could start this match gingerly and as the game progresses, the Red Machines could turn the heat on. Eventually it could be too much to cope for the Vietnamese side.