I-League: Churchill starts with a stellar victory

MARGAO: The Nehru Stadium in Fatorda has seen much better for Churchill Brothers FC in the past, but when they returned to Goa's soccer house, there was a timely reminder of what they can offer.

Lalkhawpuimawia, who needed a boss intervention Churchill Alemao to give it a try, he became the club's new favorite since his splint was enough for the hosts to beat Punjab FC 3-0 in his I-League Sunday opener. Willis Plaza added his name to the score sheet between the twin attacks of Lalkhawpuimawia.

Lalkhawpuimawia's opener at the stroke of half time was Churchill's 700th goal in the combined history of National Football League and I-League with only East Bengal (724) scoring more. East Bengal, however, have played 478 matches, while Churchill have now scored 703 goals in only 427 games. Their per goal ratio of 1.64 is the highest among all teams.

No one should be surprised that Churchill led the way. Since the days of Percy Mwase, Phillip Mensah, Yakubu Yusif and later the greatest of all, Odafa Okolie, Churchill have had proven scorers. Even last season, Plaza finished as the top scorer, although the Trinidad and Tobago striker has as many fans as detractors.

However, the day belonged to another striker, who until the last three games in the Goa Professional League did not even have the opportunity to prove himself. It was Alemao who forced the entrance of the former Aizawl FC forward and has not disappointed since then, making a 12-minute hat-trick against Dempo and now a good brace.

The first came when nobody expected. The fourth official had shown two minutes of additional time and Punjab FC was looking to stay behind. A first half without goals was not so bad for visitors, but almost suddenly they were caught at the counter. Vinil Poojary started the counter from the center and changed the ball to the right for Ponif Vaz. The right side saw an opening in the heart of Punjab's goal mouth and rehearsed the ball. Anwar should have cleared the danger, but instead, he lost the ball and Lalkhawpuimawia slipped to spin the ball home.

Results: Chennai City 1 (Fito 50) bt TRAU 0; Churchill Brothers 3 (Lalkhawpuimawia 45, 81, Plaza 70) bt Punjab FC 0