Churchill needs a 'big win' against Air India for title

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Margao, Feb 22 (UNI) The three-month-long ONGC I League National Football Championship will come to a close tomorrow with two Goan teams -- NFL champions Dempo Sports Club and Durand Cup winners Churchill Brothers -- vying for the title at two different venues.

Both Dempo and Churchill are tied on 33 points. Dempo, however, has a better goal difference of plus 19 compared to Churchill Brothers plus 15. Dempo will take on Viva Kerala in the away match at Kerala and are the favorites to win the title.

Churchill Brothers will clash against Air India, Mumbai, on the home ground at Nehru Stadium, Fatorda. Churchill needs to score five to six more goals than Dempo against Air Inida to overcome them on goal difference. Churchill Brothers can win the title even if they have a drawn match with Air India provided Dempo loses to Viva Kerala.

JCT with 30 points also have a chance of winning the title if both Dempo and Churchill Brothers lose, and they defeat Salgaocar by a big margin in Ludhiana.

Churchill Brothers will bank heavily upon Nigerian Odafe Okolie who is the highest goal scorer with 20 goals including three hat-tricks. Helping him in front will be Mboyo Iyomi who has netted 12 goals.

Churchill, in their last 17 encounters, have won 10 matches, drawn 3, lost 4, scored 37 goals and conceded 22 goals.

''Our chances are very much alive,'' Churchill coach Karim Bencherifa said. ''It is unfortunate that not everything is in our hands, but we are up to the challenge. Our biggest advantage is that we are playing at home.'' The Mumbai outfit, placed 8th in the league table with 17 points in the last 17 matches, has won only three matches, drawn 8 and lost 6 matches.

Air India coach Bimal Ghosh said his team will be in full strength for tomorrow's eagerly-awaited clash. The players have promised to go all out and grab full points, the coach said while adding that his team, placed 8th at present, could finish a satisfying sixth if Sporting holds East Bengal in Kolkata.

''I do not think Churchill Brothers can score five goals against us. We will fight till the finish and our game plan will suprise them,'' the coach said.

UNI SRN MAZ AB AS1652

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