East Bengal face leaders Minerva in crucial I-League clash

Panchkula: I-League leaders Minerva Punjab are set to welcome title-contenders East Bengal in their own backyard at the Tau Devi Lal Stadium in Panch Kula on Tuesday.

This match is crucial for both the coaches, Khogen Singh and Khalid Jamil, who were former teammates in Air India and now are vying to outwit each other in what can be termed as a potential title-decider.

The game, however, will not be easy considering the weather conditions in Chandigarh where it is raining continuously since yesterday night.

It is a must-win for Khalid Jamil’s boys, who are sitting on 23 points in 13 matches, six points behind their opponents and title favourites Minerva Punjab who are on 29 points playing as many matches.

Minerva Punjab, on the other hand, will be cautious not to drop points which might shake their title-hope and could put cold water on their fairy tale title run.

Khalid Jamil praised the home side for their superb run this season.

“They are playing very good especially, at their home. They have 100% record so this match will not be easy for us but still, there is a long way to go.”

Meanwhile, he asserted that the Minerva Punjab are still not in a position to compromise with the title-hope.

“We are 100% going for the title. We must think positive and we must get positive results. Everyone plays the game with a full heart, hence the results come. They are scoring goals and that is the main thing,” he told.

On being asked about the impact, former East Bengal player Bazie, who recently signed for Minerva, will make on the match Khalid said, “We will see it tomorrow itself. If we win tomorrow then losing him was a good decision.”

Khogen Singh looked concerned about the ground conditions and said that the sticky pitch might have an impact on tomorrow’s game.

On being asked the importance of the game since winning this match will make Minerva favourite to win the title, Wangkhem Khogen Singh said, “In my opinion, every match is important because we have not won the league until now. We might have to go to the last match of the league. So every match is final for us and East Bengal is very competitive.”

Minerva Punjab’s centre back and long Throw-In specialist Sukhdev Singh was asked about the away fixture where Minerva lost a two-goal cushion to the Red & Golds in dying moments.

He replied, “We were leading in first-half have but we conceded two goals in the second half. I think we played too defensive then. Still, it was a good result for us since that was our away game and now we have home advantage and the atmosphere is set. We will go for three points in this match.”