HASC face Churchill test

That failing will be put to severe examination when Hindustan Aeronautics Sports Club welcome Xavier Vijay Kumar and his new team Churchill Brothers at the Bangalore Football stadium here on Sunday.

HASC have made a stuttering start to the season, picking up just a single point from three matches, all three of which they should have won. But the Bangalore outfit will have to put their striking woes behind if they are to take any points from the Durand Cup winners who are flying high with seven points from three matches.

“We should have really picked up more points from our two away matches (against Shillong Lajong and Pailan Arrows), but unfortunately when we needed the goals, we failed to find them despite dominating the games completely,” M Muralidharan, HASC manager, said.

Dangerous Xavier
HASC coach R Thyagarajan, who is well aware of Xavier’s prowess, said it would be nice to see his former player back. “Xavier is very dangerous. He can turn the game easily and he knows about our game. But then, we also know what his strengths and weaknesses are. So we are confident that, if he plays, we can keep him quiet,” he said while also mentioning that a point against the Goan giants will be a good result for the Bangalore side.

The Aircraftmen are likely to go with a 4-5-1 formation unlike the normal 4-4-2, looking to pack the midfield with veteran RC Prakash playing just behind Nigerian A Hamza. Goalkeeper P Pramod returns to the starting line up after missing the two away games due to injury while the creative job will fall upon vice-captain James Singh and Malemngamba Meitei.

Hamza, who scored the only goal for HASC in the season so far in their 1-1 draw against Arrows, will again have to lace his scoring boots while Prakash’s experience and guile could prove useful to unlock a stubborn Churchill defence that has conceded just a single goal so far.
The Goan team’s new Portuguese coach Manuel Gomes has brought discipline and professionalism to the side that boast of formidable strikers in ND Opara and new signing Henry Antchouet, who has settled really well into the team, already ensuring Churchill do not miss Odafa Onyeka Okolie, who moved over to Mohun Bagan in the transfer season.
Gomes hinted that Xavier will have a part to play against his former club. “Xavier is a really good player. When he joined us, he was slightly injured which is why he hasn’t seen much playing time. He is a very creative player who can turn the game easily and I’m sure that he will play at some point in the game. Whether he will start the game or not, I cannot say, but he will play some part for sure,” Gomes said during his team’s training session on Saturday morning.

Meanwhile, the kickoff of the match has been advanced by half an hour to 3.00 pm due to inclement weather.

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