Toppers JCT can take lead with win over bottom-placed Salgaocar


Margao : JCT coach Sukhwinder Singh will stick to his “play-to-win” policy against Salgaocar Sports Club as the I-League joint leaders prepare for their ninth round clash, at Nehru Stadium here Thursday.

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While JCT currently share the top spot in the league, Salgaocar are right at the bottom. JCT have had an amazing run in the I-League and are tied on points with Dempo Sports Club at the top. They are tied at the top with 18 points each from eight matches.

Salgaocar, the only team yet to register a win, have three points from three draws and have lost other fives games. In their last two games, they have conceded five goals – they lost 4-5 to Mohun Bagan in seventh round and 1-5 to Churchill Brothers in eighth round.

Churchill Brothers, also from Goa, are lying third with 16 points from eight games, while Mahindra and Mohun Bagan have 11 points each.

“Our start has been fantastic. I cannot remember enjoying such a start in the league,” JCT coach Sukhwinder Singh told IANS after a training session at the Nehru Stadium.

JCT’s start, which includes two wins on the trot against East Bengal and Mohun Bagan in Kolkata, is the best since 1996 when the North India giants won the National Football League in its inaugural edition.

The mild-mannered Sukhwinder, however, is not getting carried away. “We have a good chance, no doubt about that. But, with 10 more matches to be played there are 30 points at stake. One slip and we could be left behind,” said Sukhwinder.

A win or a draw will take JCT to the top for the first time in the league. But, with Dempo playing Viva Kerala the next day, the joy could be shortlived.

Both on form and paper, JCT should steamroll Salgaocar Sports Club on the morrow. But, Sukhi – as the JCT coach is fondly called – is taking nothing for granted even though the likes of AIFF Player of the Year Sunil Chhetri, Braziian Eduardo Escobar and Marcos Pereira are in great form.

“Salgaocar’s quality scares me. They have such good players that they can cut to size any opponent on their day. I just hope they decide not to come good against us,” Sukhwinder said, tongue firmly in cheek.

Salgaocar, on the other hand, are yet to notch a win in eight matches, six of which have been played at home.

However, despite some disastrous results including five-goal drubbings in the past two games, coach Savio Medeira is confident he can steer the struggling Goan club away from the relegation zone.

“The players are determined that they can overcome the current position, which I understand will be a challenge, but one that all of us relish,” Medeira

Medeira said playing JCT, one of the best teams in the league, will be motivating. He said, “In football a thousand things can happen. Even though JCT are slight favourites, we are at home and I am sure we can overcome the challenge.”

For Salgaocar much will depend on their shaky defence, which has conceded 10 goals in the last two games.

“The defensive role will be crucial of course, but it will not only be up to them,” said Medeira. “Every players role is important. We need to play our game and not allow JCT to play theirs.”