This season has seen a 180 degree flip in Minerva FC’s fortunes who finished only second to last in the previous edition of the I-League. The club from Punjab has managed to win five of their seven games, with their only defeat coming away to defending champions Aizawl FC.
The tables have turned drastically for the Minervans and their owner Ranjit Bajaj who is a passionate football fan himself and is always involved with the team in more ways than one. He has credited the team’s success to the appropriate preparation time that they had at ahead of this season as opposed to what they had last season. “You can’t give a brand-new team 12 days,” says Bajaj. “Last time we started playing ‘normal’ football after seven games — the season was over, basically. This time, because we had time, we could play a pre-season and scout players properly and get them fit as well. The fitness level of our team is one thing as we play much better in the second half in all the matches, that’s the difference.” He said.
Evidently, Minerva have scored six of their 10 goals this season in the second half, with four of them at the 80-minute mark or later which backs up Bajaj’s theory with evidence. Moreover, their star player from Bhutan, Chencho Gyeltshen and Ghanaian striker William Opoku have been enjoying a fruitful stint at the Punjab based club sharing 5 goals among them. Minerva Punjab FC are within touching distance of the pole position as the leaders East Bengal, who have amassed 18 points so far, having played two more games.
Minerva will now travel to Kolkata to take on Mohun Bagan on January 10 which should be a cracker of a contest with the home side boasting of a solid defense. Can the Punjabis continue the winning run and pull of an Aizawl this year?