| alvito: Cutting edge
Margao: A battle royale is on the cards when IFA Shield champions East Bengal take on runners-up Churchill Brothers in the OIL PSU National League match to be played at the Nehru Stadium here on Thursday.
Churchill, placed fourth with 20 points from 12 matches, are the only Goan team to have not lost against East Bengal in the first leg of the league.
Their new Ghanaian recruit, striker Benjamin Ansah has combined well along with Yusif Yakubu against Dempo and the home advantage give them a good chance to upset their rivals.
Both the teams met thrice this season and Churchill, who drew with them in the NFL first leg, lost in the Shield final after having beaten them in the qualifying stage.
Coach Marcus Pacheco said Thursday’s match is a tough one but maintained his boys were in positive frame of mind.
However, he said his only fear was how well the defence would handle the pressure against the strike force of Alvito D’Cunha, Mike Okoro and Suley Musah in the absence of Osumanu Husseini. “If our defence sticks to the task, we have a good chance to upset the opponent who has had a good unbeaten run so far,” Pacheco said.
East Bengal, who have won four titles this season, are comfortably placed at the top with 30 points from 12 matches, six points ahead of second placed Salgaocar, who have played 13 matches.
A win versus Churchill will give the Calcutta giants a nine-point lead over Salgaocar, taking them closer to the title for the second time.
Coach Subhas Bhowmick said the team would guard against complacency. “Tomorrow’s match would be a tough and crucial one for winning the title.
“It is a difficult proposition to play in Goa against the home team, and they have recruited one more foreigner who is playing well, which will give them more advantage,” Bhowmick said. (PTI)