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AFC Cup: Warriors FC 1-0 Churchill Brothers – Big setback to Goan club’s round of 16 hopes

Amoy Ghoshal
FEATURED COLUMNIST
Modified 10 Apr 2013, 20:23 IST
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FILE PHOTO

FILE PHOTO

Warriors FC 1 (Ravanan OG 54) Churchill Brothers 0

Warriors FC: Hassan Sunny; Zulfadli Zainal Abidin (Dharham Aziz 77), Abdil Qaiyyim, Daniel Bennett, Marin Vidosevic; Ruzaini Zainal, Shukor Zailan (Matthew Abraham 68), Shi Jiayi, Tatsuro Inui; Erwan Gunawan (Prakash Manikam 90), Mislav Karoglan.

Churchill Brothers : Sandip Nandy; Denzil Franco, Dharmaraj Ravanan, Lamine Tamba, Naveen Kumar; Steven Dias (Jaison Vales 76), Lenny Rodrigues (Sanjay Balmuchu 77), Asley Fernandes; Balal Arezou, Sunil Chhetri & Henri Antchouet.

Churchill Brothers suffered a narrow 1-0 defeat against Singapore’s Warriors FC in a Group E AFC Cup fixture in Singapore on Wednesday evening. Technical director Subhash Bhowmick played down the importance of the fixture and stated that the I-League was their priority in the pre-match press conference, and that seemed to affect his players, as they started very slowly and conceded in the second half through a Dharmaraj Ravanan own goal.

The Goan club put some pressure on the Warriors goal in the final quarter of the game, with India captain Sunil Chhetri going the closest, but they couldn’t find the equaliser. Semen Padang’s 3-1 win over Kitchee in the other game of the group keeps Churchill within touching distance of second spot, but they will have to perform much better in the final two fixtures to stand any chance of reaching the knockout stage.

TD Bhowmick made just two changes to the eleven that beat Pune FC 2-1 last Friday in the I-League, with Sunil and Afghanistan international Balal Arezou included despite only reaching Singapore late on Tuesday.

Warriors coach V Selvaraj made just one change to the lineup that started last week in Pune, with Prakash Manikam making way for Shi Jiayi.

The hosts needed a win to keep their round of 16 hopes alive while Churchill needed three points to move to second place in the group at the expense of Hong Kong’s Kitchee .

Both sides started slowly and there wasn’t any real attempt on goal until the 23rd minute when Japanese Tatsuro Inui, who had scored twice already in the competition, tested Sandip Nandy with a powerful shot from just outside the box. Churchill Brothers responded well and went close from a Steven Dias direct freekick.

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The defences were doing a good job as attackers of both teams were limited to efforts from outside the box with Arezou also trying his luck from distance but missed the target.

Inui looked to be Warriors’ most creative player but the Japanese found it difficult to open up a well-organised Churchill back four and he also had to go for long range efforts.

Young Asley Fernandes, who got a rare start, had Churchill’s first and only shot on target in the closing stages of the first half but his effort was well saved by Warriors goalkeeper Hassan Sunny.

Due to a lightning warning at the Jalan Besar Stadium, there was a 25-minute delay in the start of the second half.

The Warriors were determined to give everything in the second period and nine minutes after the restart they were in front thanks to an unfortunate own goal by Churchill skipper Ravanan.

Churchill’s best chance to equalise came in the 65th minute when Arezou did brilliantly to send a teasing cross from the left flank but an unmarked Henri Antchouet was unable to get on the end of it.

With only five players on the bench, Bhowmick had very few options to change the game but he did make a double change with Jaison Vales, scorer in the reverse fixture, replacing Dias and Sanjay Balmuchu coming on for India international Lenny Rodrigues.

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Vales had a decent impact after coming on, as he went close from a freekick and had another chance after combining well with Antchouet but failed to hit the target.

Churchill’s sustained pressure in the closing stages nearly brought them an equaliser but Sunny produced a top class save to deny Sunil.

Warriors somehow held on for the three points, and they still have an outside chance of making it to the next round, while Churchill will surely now focus entirely on the I-League, even though wins in their last two games could still get them a round of 16 spot.

Published 10 Apr 2013, 20:23 IST
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