Rarely do you see a defending champion struggling to save relegation in the following year of their triumph. Probably this could have been the first time in the history that a champion gets relegated next season. Churchill Brothers made sure they do not become an example of such scenario. Churchill Brothers Sports Club had a poor season and barely survived the relegation. Even though the Red Machines won the Federation Cup for the first time in their history this season but season would be seen as a disaster.
Churchill Brothers would have never even hoped that they will be having such poor season at the start of the 2013/14 season. The Red Machines had lost a couple of first team players but did manage to sign their replacements. They had a squad which was good enough to fetch them the results.
One of the prime reasons for the Churchill debacle has been instability, the club shuffling during the season. They tried 11 foreigners throughout the squad, but very few could improve their performance. Even the coaching staff found wanting to select good foreigner who could help them.The club had a decent start in Goa Pro-League, but then started to lose its way. They failed to pull a string of good performances which could have raised their confidence. The state league poor performance has been just an indication of what the club could have expected.
I-League start was a complete disaster for the Red Machines; they failed to win a single match in first 7 matches. The failure in the first quarter of the season took a toll on the Sukhwinder Singh, who was the technical director of the club. The former JCT gaffer resigned from the position after a string of defeats. Churchill then hired Subhash Bhowmick who had experienced of working with Churchill Brothers in previous seasons. The signing of Bhowmick did not bring any significant change and club was still at the bottom of the table. Bhowmick and Mariano Dias were able to rope in Anthony Wolfe and Egyptian Abdul Shabana and both the players played an important role till the last match of the season. Anthony Wolfe specially was instrumental in the last and most important match of the season for them against Salgaocar FC. Churchill Brothers had to wait for the last match to ensure their survival in the I-league.
Churchill Brother had their moments which they should cherish in the season. The Federation Cup triumph was one among them. It was an unexpected victory for the club but certainly showed if they play to their potential they could have earned a few more points. The team looked like a unit in the Federation Cup, which took place in Kochi. In absence of Bhowmick, Mariano Dias showed his managerial ability. The coach earned a lot of praises from the victory and this win also lifted the moral of the players which helped them to survive in the I-League.
The club would also be pleased with the AFC Cup performances despite poor domestic form. Mariano Dias led side able to qualify for the knockout stage before losing out to Vietnamese side Visai Nhin Bhin in the Round of 16.
Best Player – Balwant Singh
This season was a resurgence of the Balwant Singh, The striker has been a thorn in the flesh for I-League defenders with his imposing figure and goal scoring abilities. The Black Panthers scored only 25 goals in 24 I-League fixtures and it was Balwant who scored 10 of them in a campaign where they forgot the path to the opposition goal posts. Balwant Singh also stamped his authority in Federation Cup and AFC Cup scoring all together 16 goals this season in all competition.
Worst Player – Daniel Zeleny
The Australian was brought in during the second half of the season to solidify defense; The Aussie hardly able to put stellar performances. He was slow at the back and was not able to stop the flow of the goals. After few frustrating performances he was relegated to the bench and hardly made it to the first team.
Most Memorable match
Churchill Brothers 3-2 Pune FC
Churchill Brothers win over Pune FC was one of the greatest comeback one would see in Indian football. The Red Machines needed a win this match to stay away from the drop zone and were trailing 2-1 till 90th minute. A draw would not have served their purpose, Spirited Churchill boys scored 2 goals in added time and brought victory from the jaw of the defeat. This three points proved crucial at the end of the season for the Red Machines.
Most Disappointing Match
Churchill Brothers 0 – 2 United SC
United SC was struggling to get three points before this match and this was golden chance for Churchill Brothers get the valuable three points and move into the safety zone. Egyptian midfielder Shabana’ s reckless challenge earned him a double booking and he was told to march out of the stadium. This proved to be turning point and United SC capitalized on it. United SC registered a comfortable victory and piled more misery on the Churchill Brothers.
Balwant Singh vs Pune FC
Balwant Singh’ s injury time goal against Pune FC was truly special. The Indias International twisted, turned and dribbled past 5 defenders to slot the ball nicely. This goal was more special since the team was trailing and badly needed a victory for the survival of the club.