Former champions Churchill Brothers will look to return to winning ways when they take on All India Football Federation's developmental side Indian Arrows in the first ever I-League game at the multi-purpose Kalinga Stadium here on Sunday.
The young Arrows side coached by Floyd Pinto have adopted the state of Odisha as their home and were playing their home games of this season's campaign at Cuttack's Barabati stadium till now.
The game on Sunday will be crucial for Goan giants Churchill in particular, given their campaign has got a bit derailed in the last couple of matches after being quite impressive for most parts of this year's edition.
While Churchill go into the game on the back of two consecutive defeats, the Arrows have picked up four points in their last two matches and will be looking to sustain the momentum as they keep making strides in the Indian footballing landscape.
Churchill's Romanian coach Petra Gigiu has admitted in media reports that the team morale has dropped a little after the two defeats and with injuries to key players and suspensions to deal with, the game against Arrows will not be easy.
"We are not happy with our performance," he said in a press conference on matchday eve. "We have lost two matches but we hope to win tomorrow. Indian Arrows is a young team but we should not take any team lightly," he added.
The Arrows, on the other hand, are a cohesive unit and have this uncanny knack of picking up wins to disrupt the plans of the more professional club setups. They won thrice last season, which was their debut season and have already picked up two this season in their eight games.
However, coach Gigiu will know that if his attacking duo of Dawda Cessay and the league's top goal scorer Willis Plaza are on song, Arrows can be rolled over and he will do well to charge them up sufficiently for Sunday's game.
The Arrows have had huge problems scoring goals and Floyd Pinto will have to find a way to get his team to score many more than the three they have so far, to nurture bigger hopes.
Speaking at the pre-game presser, coach Pinto said, "Judging how the season has gone, I think we are in the best mood, because we got four points in the last two games. We hope to continue the same performance against Churchill, who are probably one of the best attacking sides in the league.
"They have the top goal scorer in the league. To keep them quiet and get another clean sheet will be an achievement for us," he said.
They will not get a better opportunity to do well against Churchill given their defensive formation is severely depleted due to injuries and suspension.
The Arrows are gradually hitting the right chords and Pinto seems to have settled down with some of his experimentation in the beginning.
In Deepak Tangri, Pinto has a resolute defensive midfielder, whereas he has Anwar Ali at the back, who can organise and marshal the defence. The two back-to-back clean sheets will boost the confidence of his back-line and it is time that they concentrate on becoming more clinical in front of the opposition goal.
For Churchill to have any hopes of a shot at the title, Sunday is a must win game, but the result is by no means a given.